A hazardous spill on the Beach, environmental engineers called in to evaluate the situation, prototypes created to test their efficiency and effectiveness – sounds like something out of news headlines, doesn’t it?  While the hazardous spill is definitely something we have experience with in our area, RMS students in Greta Draayom’s eighth grade science classes took part in a simulated event that introduced them to the robotic engineering concept with experiment kits provided by Washington County 4-H.

The experiment, 4-H Eco-Bot Challenge, was part of 4-H National Youth Science Day which seeks to spark an early youth interest in science and future science careers, and to reclaim the nation's position of leadership in scientific exploration.  Students utilized engineering principles and enhanced their science skills by assembling their own Eco-Bots and surface controls to manage an environmental clean up.  They tested the interaction between the Eco-Bot's design features and various surface control configurations to determine the most effective clean-up solution for the simulated spill.

It has never been more important for us to prepare young people to be proficient in science, engineering, and technology than right now.  Recent research shows that fewer young people are entering adulthood with the skills required to get a middle class or better job.  American leaders recognize that if our county continues to take its superiority in science and technology for granted, it risks losing it.  Congress commissioned a study to make recommendations as to how our country can address this concern.  Incidentally, the study is titled, Rising Above the Gathering Storm.  The study points out that the US is falling behind in its future workforce of scientists, engineers, and technology experts.  China, France, and Singapore 50% or higher of all undergraduates receive their degrees in science related fields as opposed to only 15% in the US.  This report also pointed out that the US is facing the following obstacles:

•        Low levels of student interest and proficiencies in science

•        Need for improved science education

•        Need for positive role models in science, engineering, and tech

•        Opportunities for young people to participate in inquiry based learning

•        Outreach to minorities and females to enter science related careers

To combat a national shortage of young people pursuing science college majors and occupations, and to enhance the nation's contribution to the sciences, 4-H National Youth Science Day demonstrates that science; engineering, math and technology are fun and attainable options for college degrees and future careers.  By participating in high-quality, positive youth development programs like 4-H NYSD, youth have the opportunity to be engaged in exciting, hands-on scientific exploration in order to build the next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians.

About 4-H National Youth Science Day

For more than 100 years, 4-H has been at the forefront of teaching youth about science, engineering and technology. Created to combat a shortage of American young people pursuing science college majors and careers, 4-H National Youth Science Day seeks to spark an early youth interest and leadership in science.

Currently, more than five million young people across the nation participate in 4 H science, engineering and technology programming in topics as varied as robotics, rocketry, wind power, GPS mapping, agricultural science, film making, water quality and biofuels. And, through the One Million New Scientists, One Million New Ideas campaign, 4 H has undertaken a bold goal of engaging one million additional young people in science, engineering and technology programming by 2013.

This year's 4-H National Youth Science Day is jointly sponsored Lockheed Martin, Toyota, Donaldson Filtration Solutions, Motorola, Wal-Mart and John Deere.  4-H NYSD is one of the 4-H in the Classroom programs provided by Washington County 4-H. 

For more information on Washington County 4-H, contact 4-H Youth Development Agent, Julie Pigott Dillard at 850.638.6180 or juliepd@ufl.edu.  If you are an adult volunteer interested in beginning a club focused on science/engineering/technology or hosting a youth workshop, please contact Dillard.  Visit the Washington County 4-H Facebook page to see more pictures of the event.