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4-H STEM Challenge focuses on Mars exploration

By for CAES News

The National 4‑H STEM Challenge, formerly known as 4‑H National Youth Science Day, is an annual initiative to inspire kids everywhere to take an interest in science, technology, engineering and math through hands-on learning.

The 2020 National 4‑H STEM Challenge, Mars Base Camp, will explore sending a mission to Mars with four different activities: Landing Zone Surveyor, Red Planet Odyssey, Crop Curiosity and Insight from Mars. Building a battery-operated rover, parachuting onto the planet’s surface and computer coding a story about Mars are some of the 2020 activities. Youth can choose to participate in one or multiple activities as part of the challenge. 

“With NASA’s focus on exploring Mars, the topics taught in the 2020 National 4‑H STEM Challenge are relevant and exciting,” says Kasey Bozeman, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension 4-H specialist for science and environmental education programs.  “I’m excited to see our county Extension offices across the state offer these activities to 4-H members in their communities. We have counties that lead these activities by partnering with schools, community centers and after-school care programs. Now that a family kit is being offered, families can participate from the convenience of home. It’s such an easy way to get youth engaged in science activities.”

Since the program’s inception in 2008, National 4‑H Council has partnered with land-grant universities to develop fun, accessible challenges that allow young people to see how STEM skills can be applied to the world around them. More than 3,500 Georgia 4-H’ers have participated in the National 4‑H STEM Challenge to date, with nearly 1,000 youth participating last year.

The program was recently renamed the National 4‑H STEM Challenge to encourage families and 4-H clubs to participate at any time, not just on a specific day as practiced in previous years. According to National 4-H Council, “it’s a name that better reflects the spirit of the program and allows us to continue making improvements that enable you to reach more kids, plan events more easily and showcase the impact of your STEM programs year-round.”

Additionally, the National 4-H Council has created materials and guides for the activities in an easily accessible format for youth and adults available at 4-h.org/parents/4-h-stem-challenge. Family kits designed for one to four youth and educator kits with materials for 12 youth are also available for purchase.

For more information, visit georgia4h.org or contact your local University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office by visiting extension.uga.edu.

Cristina deRevere is the public relations coordinator for Georgia 4-H.
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