UNIVERSITY PARK – On Oct. 7, youth across Pennsylvania will join hundreds of thousands of young people around the nation to simultaneously create biofuel as part of “Biofuel Blast,” the 2009 National Science Experiment scheduled for 4-H National Youth Science Day.
4-H National Youth Science Day was established to combat a national shortage of young people pursuing science educations and careers by sparking youthful interest in science. Through the “One Million New Scientists, One Million New Ideas” campaign, 4-H aims to engage one million young people in science, engineering and technology programs by the year 2013. This year’s experiment will teach youth how cellulose and sugars in such plants as corn, switchgrass, sorghum and algae can be converted into fuel and how alternative energies can be used in their own communities.
“Engaging youth early in scientific exploration has been shown to spark a lasting interest in the sciences,” said Christy Bartley, state 4-H program leader for Penn State Cooperative Extension. “Science often can seem intimidating to young people, but 4-H National Youth Science Daymakes science fun, real and accessible. Kids will learn about cutting-edge technologies and then take the next step by applying what they’ve learned in their own community.”
Currently, more than 5 million youth across the nation take part in science, engineering and technology programming year-round through 4-H. Research indicates that youth who participate in 4-H are more likely to get better grades in school, to seek out science classes, to see themselves going to college and to contribute positively in their communities. In addition, 4-H youth have been shown to better resist peer pressure and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors.
Six million 4-H youth and 514,000 volunteers nationwide will lead parents, teachers, students and other youth organizations in 4-H National Youth Science Day. At Penn State’s University Park campus, “Biofuel Blast” participants will lead discussions about alternative energy with university bioenergy researchers. Later, in their communities, they will demonstrate the world of alternative fuels and discuss how they can make a difference in their home town.
Part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension System and implemented by the nation’s land-grant colleges and universities, 4-H has been educating youth in the sciences for more than 100 years. 4-H National Youth Science Day takes place every year during National 4-H Week. More information is available online.
4-H is a youth-development program of 6 million young people across America learning leadership, citizenship and life skills. The program is administered in Pennsylvania by Penn State Cooperative Extension. More than 100,000 Pennsylvania youth between the ages of 8 and 19 participate in 4-H projects, activities and school-enrichment programs in subjects ranging from animal, plant and environmental sciences to photography, nutrition and citizenship.