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Nevada 4-H to conduct carbon footprint experiment Oct. 6

Posted 9/29/2010

4-H’ers from last years’ NYSD science expermiment.

Youth across Nevada will join hundreds of thousands of young people around the country Oct. 6 in simultaneously conducting an experiment to learn how heightened levels of carbon dioxide can affect water quality and climate change.

The event is part of 4-H National Youth Science Day, a 3-year-old program that works to spark an interest among youth in science and science careers. More than 5 million youth across the U.S. participate in 4-H science, engineering, technology and applied math in yearlong programs.

In addition to science experiments being conducted at various 4-H after-school programs and club meetings from Las Vegas to Reno and many small towns in between, a select group of 4-H ambassadors will be conducting the experiment at 3 p.m. Oct. 6 in a public gathering on the second floor rotunda of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center at the University of Nevada, Reno.

This year’s experiment, called "4-H20," will teach young people how increased amounts of carbon dioxide can affect aquatic animals, plants and other living organisms in lakes, streams, rivers and oceans. The experiment uses workbooks and online guides to help participants in 4-H National Youth Science Day to measure a carbon footprint and estimate energy savings by examining gas and electric bills.

4-H’ers from last years’ NYSD science expermiment.

“Engaging youth early in scientific exploration has been shown to spark a lasting interest in the sciences,” said University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Dean and Director Karen Hinton. “Science can often seem intimidating to young people, but 4-H National Youth Science Day makes science fun, real, and accessible. Kids will learn about cutting edge technologies and then take the next step to lead by applying what they’ve learned in their very own community.”

The National Youth Science Day is part of the 4-H organization’s goal of engaging 1 million new young people in science, engineering and technology programs by the year 2013. The One Million New Scientists, One Million New Ideas campaign seeks to battle a national shortage of youth pursuing science college majors and careers.

“These experiments are a great way to learn about science and the methods scientists use to make discoveries,” said Anna Baumann, a North Valleys High student who participated in the 4-H National Youth Science Day experiment last year. During that experiment, she and other 4-H’ers learned how cellulose and sugars in plants — such as corn, switchgrass, sorghum and algae — can be converted into fuel.

The national experiment is another example of 4-H’s positive impact on youth. Youth development scholar Dr. Richard Lerner, who works with researchers at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University, has found that, when compared to other youth, young people involved in 4-H are:

  • Nearly two times more likely to get better grades in school;
  • Nearly two times more likely to plan to go to college;
  • 41 percent less likely to engage in risky behaviors; and
  • 25 percent more likely to positively contribute to their families and communities.

At the UNR experiment, 4-H2O participants will learn about the impact of excess carbon dioxide on our water sources and then will lead discussions on climate change with help from UNCE water quality experts Mark Walker and Sue Donaldson.

As part of the Cooperative Extension System of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and implemented by the nation’s 109 land-grant colleges and universities, 4-H has been educating youth in the sciences for more than 100 years. In fact, the land-grant colleges and universities have been deeply involved in climate change research for some time and will showcase their work to inspire youth on 4-H National Youth Science Day.

4-H’s robust, university research-based science curriculum, combined with new initiatives like 4-H National Youth Science Day, will arm youth with the necessary technical skills to help America maintain its competitive edge in the global marketplace.

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