Improving science literacy is one of the goals of the Michigan State University Extension “I Know MI Numbers” initiative. 4-H Science Blasts, held throughout the state, are part of the effort designed to help improve science scores in a state where science literacy for school-aged youth is below the national average. The blasts also help 4-H to reach the goal of engaging one million new young people in science programs by 2013.
MSU Extension’s Allegan County 4-H Youth Development was a part of one of this summer’s Maranda’s Park Parties held July 28, 2011, at the Allegan County Fairgrounds. The 4-H area included a 4-H Science Blast with four stations of learning and fun for the 4,900 individuals attending the event.
MSU Extension educator Jan Brinn incorporated the 4-H Science Blast into the park party to meet the goals of the I Know MI Numbers initiative and National 4-H by educating youth in science. The 4-H area reached more than 900 youth who not only learned about science and 4‑H but had fun too.
The Science Blast included four stations that covered the areas of animal science, plant science, engineering and technology, and environmental science. Youth met a cow up close and personal, took part in 4-H beef science activities, made butterflies using the 4-H “Project Butterfly Wings” curriculum, pollinated flowers using corn meal and made red bean necklaces. They enjoyed watching the TEAM ROCK Robotics 4-H robot pick up balloons made by Giggles the Clown. They even learned about worm farming from a young 4-H’er. Attendees also were able to proudly wear Science Blast tattoos.
Jan is excited about the success of the event. “With the large number in attendance, TV cameras and wonderful 4-H volunteers helping in the 4-H area it was very successful. 4-H was promoted, youth educated in science and everyone had fun as well,” she said.