STEM Experts Join 4-H National Youth Science Day and Panel On Demystifying STEM

By National 4-H Council September 14, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 14, 2015) –An NFL player-turned-NASA astronaut and an Emmy Award-winning tech TV host will join hundreds of thousands of young people across the nation for the world’s largest, youth-led science experiment. The former astronaut, Leland Melvin, and the TV and digital lifestyle expert, Mario Armstrong will kick off the eighth annual 4‑H National Youth Science Day (4‑H NYSD)on Wednesday, October 7, 2015.

As hundreds of thousands of youth are leading the 2015 National Science Experiment at community and school events across the world, Melvin and Armstrong will join the flagship national event at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. National activities will begin with a thought leadership breakfast where Melvin and Armstrong will join leading STEM influencers for a robust panel discussion about “Demystifying Science: Translating STEM From Abstract to Appealing for U.S. Youth.” The topic aims to go beyond simply discussing why STEM education is important and delve into how hands-on learning experiences and more public-private collaboration can enhance and complement textbook STEM learning in the classroom.

Today, more youth than ever are graduating high school and enrolling in post-secondary education. While this is a great achievement, only 16 percent of American high school seniors are interested in a STEM career, and the problem is worse for girls and minority youth, who are significantly under-represented in STEM degrees and careers.

“As the nation’s largest positive youth development organization we see each day how hands-on experiences and professional mentors can spark the interests of youth in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math,” says Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of National 4‑H Council. “To have role models like Leland and Mario join us to not only talk about opportunities to engage youth but also participate in 4‑H National Youth Science Day, shows their commitment to the future of our youth.”

The national rallying event for 4‑H Science, 4‑H NYSD is an interactive learning experience that gets youth excited about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and spotlights the many ways millions of youth are engaging in 4‑H Science programs year-round. This year’s experiment, “Motion Commotion,” designed by Oregon State University Cooperative Extension in partnership with Vernier Software & Technology, will combine a speeding car collision and a distracted driving demonstration in a simulated activity that investigates the physical and human factors of motion.

Youth will conduct the two-part “Motion Commotion” experiment using every day materials – including a toy car, modeling clay, ruler, calculator and cell phone – to explore physics in the real-world. In the first phase, youth will construct a simulated runway to analyze the speed, momentum and kinetic energy of a car in motion, and will explore the science behind the car’s collisions. In the second phase, they will lead an experiment that uses the same physics principles to demonstrate the consequences of distracted driving.

“Working with students and seeing them excited about learning science, technology and math is as awe-inspiring as galactic space travel,” says Leland Melvin, who served on two Space Shuttle missions (STS-122 Atlantis and STS-129). “Being a part of 4‑H National Youth Science Day gives me the opportunity to share my story and inspire the next generation of explorers.”

“There are so many ways to engage our youth in STEM fields today,” says Mario Armstrong, who previously served as chief technology advocate for the city of Baltimore and IT director for the state of Maryland Tourism Department. “It’s about helping them connect STEM to their passions. Understanding the relevance is a huge factor in gaining a wider base of interested youth into STEM fields, which is why 4‑H NYSD is such a great event to spark the discovery of science with fun experiments like the physics behind distracted driving.”

Every year, youth complete more than 5 million 4‑H science projects in robotics, agricultural science, rocketry, wind power, environmental science and alternative energy. To learn more about 4‑H NYSD, visit Science kits for the 2015 National Science Experiment are currently available for sale from the 4‑H Mall.

The national sponsors of 2015 4‑H NYSD are HughesNet®, Lockheed Martin and U.S. Cellular.

About 4‑H

4‑H, the nation’s largest youth development organization, grows confident young people who are empowered for life today and prepared for career tomorrow. 4‑H programs empower nearly six million young people across the U.S. through experiences that develop critical life skills. 4‑H is the youth development program of our nation’s Cooperative Extension System and USDA, and serves every county and parish in the U.S. through a network of 110 public universities and more than 3000 local Extension offices. Globally, 4‑H collaborates with independent programs to empower one million youth in 50 countries. The research-backed 4‑H experience grows young people who are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs.

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