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Nevada 4-H participates in national science experiment

Posted 10/13/2011

NV Energy demonstration of wind energy part of nationwide event

Youth across Nevada joined hundreds of thousands of young people around the country Oct. 5 in simultaneously conducting an experiment to design a working wind energy turbine.

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With the wind outside howling and spinning a real-life wind turbine, three 4-H ambassadors from Washoe County demonstrated how to build a turbine for an audience of students, teachers and University of Nevada faculty gathered at NV Energy in Reno.

The "Wired for Wind" event was part of 4-H National Youth Science Day, a 4-year-old program that works to spark an interest among youth in science and science careers. Nearly 50,000 youth participate in 4-H in Nevada in programs and clubs in both rural and urban areas.

While the Washoe group, including Anna Baumann, Samantha Gialimba and Christiana Troeger , built their models with help from Pine Middle School students, 4-H groups from Las Vegas to Humboldt County and from Washoe to Elko also were conducting the same experiment. Different wind mill models were tested to determine which generated the most electricity.

The experiment, which included modifying blade pitches to determine the highest efficiency, also involved analyzing the state’s geography to determine the best location for generating power from wind.

Jason Geddes, the chairman of the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents, assisted the 4-H’ers in conducting the Washoe County experiment. Geddes is also the environmental services administrator for the city of Reno, where he implements programs to make city operations more sustainable and helps business with environmental and renewable energy issues.

The 4-H program is conducted under the auspices of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Cooperative Extension Dean and Director Karen Hinton said programs like the science experiment are an important part of 4-H learning.

"Getting young people involved in experiments like this sparks a lasting interest in the sciences," Hinton said. "Some people who think of 4-H as being mostly interested in farming and livestock are surprised by how much we do with science."

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 Baumann, a North Valleys High student who has participated in the last two National Science Experiments. In 2009, 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.

The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension is the outreach college that extends knowledge from the University of Nevada — and other land-grant universities — to local communities to address critical needs. UNCE is a federal-state-county partnership with 19 statewide offices. Its more than 200 personnel -- with the help of volunteers -- conduct programs in agriculture; children, youth and families; community development; health and nutrition; horticulture; and natural resources.

About 4-H

4-H is a community of 6 million young people across America learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills. National 4-H Council is the private sector, non-profit partner of 4-H National Headquarters located at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within USDA. 4-H programs are implemented by the 109 land-grant universities and the Cooperative Extension System through their 3,100 local Extension offices across the country. Learn more about 4-H at www.4-h.org or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/4-H.

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