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Georgia 4-H’ers shoot for the moon at Mission Make-It engineering challenge

By for CAES News

For about 150 Georgia 4-H’ers and their parents, a weekend trip to Rock Eagle 4-H Center turned into a mission to the moon as they participated in Georgia 4-H’s Mission Make-It engineering challenge.

The annual event, which started in 2016, brought together Georgia middle school students from more than 23 counties on Aug. 17. The students were asked to recreate rockets and space modules that could have been used as part of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission. The mission celebrated its 50th anniversary this summer.

The goal of Mission Make-It is to help the students learn about potential careers in the STEM fields and develop teamwork, communication and critical thinking skills through fun engineering challenges.

“It’s inspiring to see so many young people interested in STEM programming,” said Kasey Bozeman, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension 4-H specialist for science and environmental education programs. “Science is all around us. It doesn’t just happen in a laboratory. Mission Make-It is a great event because it allows young people to work alongside their peers to test their ideas. They brainstorm, plan, and build.”

During this year's Mission Make-It event, the 4-H members worked in small groups to use the five-phase engineering design process: ask, imagine, plan, create and improve. This year’s theme focused on aerospace design in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing.

The teams built rockets and launch pads to send rockets to inflatable moons. They also constructed space modules designed for splashdown in the ocean, represented by a miniature pool. The event also included presentations from professionals to encourage the students to continue learning and explore potential career paths.

“The best thing about today was working as a team with new friends while learning about science,” said Ayden Plummer, a Bryan County 4-H'er.

In addition to the hands-on activities, students heard from Loris Magnani, a UGA professor of astronomy, about the future of space travel and astronomy research. They also heard from Benjamin Calhoon, a U.S. Air Force reservist, who spoke on GPS and aerospace-related careers in the military and beyond.

Plans for the 2020 Mission Make-It are already underway. For more information, visit the Mission Make-It website. Parents can contact their local UGA Extension office by calling 1-800-ask-UGA1 to find out how their children can be involved.

Georgia 4-H empowers youth to become true leaders by developing necessary life skills, positive relationships and community awareness. As the largest youth leadership organization in the state, 4-H reaches more than 175,000 people annually through UGA Extension offices and 4-H facilities. For more information, visit georgia4h.org.

Kasey Bozeman is a UGA Cooperative Extension 4-H Specialist for science and environmental education programs.
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