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Cooperative Extension 4-H leaders launch rocket classes during Spring Break

Posted 4/1/2016

girl jumping on rocket launcher

Young girl enthusiastically jumps to launch her rocket. Photo taken at the SkyView YMCA on March 21, 2016.

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s 4-H leaders hit the road during Spring Break to teach Las Vegas youth the science behind rocketry.

The week long classes included visits to four different YMCA’s around the valley including Centennial Hills and Durango Hills Community Centers.

According to Karen Best, 4-H’s Program Officer III, programs like these are vital for Las Vegas youth.

“4-H stands for head, heart, hands and health, which is our pledge,” said Best. “Clubs which are volunteer-led and project-based range all the way to Boulder City, Sandy Valley, Henderson, and North Las Vegas. Those kids are involved in projects such as leadership and community service.”

She also mentioned how important it is to get youth involved in science activities.

“One of the things about 4-H is we want to reach out and give everybody that experience. We’re focusing right now on STEM outreach because there is a shortage of kids interested in science, technology, engineering and math. We find that reaching them at a young age gives them a spark and that excitement,” said Best.

During each two and a half hour class students learn about aerodynamics from 4-H’s Community Based Instructor, Jay Clyde, whom Best labels as “Mr. Jay” to the classroom.

“I enjoy the entire experience,” said Clyde. “Learning about STEM is important for kids and these kids have a passion for it.”

Students also learned how to build rockets of their own with the instruction of Mr. Jay and even got a chance to launch them in their gym. For Best, seeing the children’s reactions to what they’ve just learned is what she enjoys most.

“I love watching the whole process when they first start learning about it and it doesn’t quite click. They’re putting their stuff together and they finally get the ability to launch it. No matter what process they went through, whether it was easy for them or not at the end they’re like ‘yeah this was great,’” said Best.

So what’s next for 4-H? Best mentioned she looks forward to all of the upcoming events for this year.

“We will be at the Clark County Fair. A lot of kids will be submitting their artwork, science projects, and baking projects,” stated Best. “There’s an animal costume contest at the fair where they make their animal’s outfit. It’s adorable. After that, we will be at two different Las Vegas science festivals, one at Cashman Center and one at CSN and doing some hands on projects.”

4-H is also holding three STEM day camps in Las Vegas and one resident camp at Lake Tahoe during the summer. To learn more about 4-H and the programs offered, contact Karen Best at 702-257-5538 or visit the Clark County 4-H Facebook page.

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