Extension News

Spark Creativity with ‘Tinkering with Science’ Workshop and 4-H Club

U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory

Note to media editors: An audio interview with Holly Bignall and Marcus Johnson is available for your use.


AMES, Iowa – Local youth can try the creative side of science when they sign up for Tinkering with Science, a new Story County 4-H club and workshop sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory and Iowa State University Extension 4-H Youth Development.

Tinkering with Science runs Sundays May 31 through July 19 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the Extension 4-H Youth Building on the Iowa State University campus in Ames. The seven weekly workshops will present students with science and engineering challenges, such as figuring out how something works or why something might be broken. Youth entering grades six through 10 in fall 2009 are eligible to participate.

Tinkering with Science allows kids to use their imagination — and get a science lesson as well, said Marcus Johnson, president of EM Sensors Inc. Johnson, an engineer and physicist who has worked with Iowa State University and the Ames Laboratory, will lead the workshops. Each week he’ll present some basic knowledge to the students so they can figure out on their own how certain gadgets work — from something as simple as a flashlight to as complex as a DVD player. 

The youth will experiment and observe, Johnson continued. They will learn about sensors and transducers so that they can build simple systems to make measurements. They’ll also get to use the latest software to design their own sensor system on a printed circuit board that will be fabricated by a professional manufacturer.

After the workshops are completed, members can showcase what they’ve learned at the Iowa State Fair, and continue their exploration as part of the Tinkering with Science 4-H club. Costs to participate in Tinkering with Science include a $20 materials fee and membership in 4-H. (Financial assistance is available.)

According to Holly Bignall with ISU Extension Science, Engineering and Technology (E-SET), “We want to broaden the image that kids have of scientists and engineers to see that they do all sorts of things. Some of the best scientists and engineers aren’t from the top 2 percent of their class, but are the kids who like to tinker, like to explore, are interested in the world and curious. We really want to develop that passion.”

“Inspiring future generations by exciting them about science is one of the Ames Laboratory’s core values,” added Steve Karsjen, Ames Laboratory education director. “We’re excited to support programs that help spark student interest in science.”

Iowa State University’s Center for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Education is funding the Tinkering with Science workshops through the Iowa Mathematics and Science Education Partnership.

To sign up for Tinkering with Science, contact Jess Truby with E-SET at jstruby@iastate.edu or (515) 294-1991.


Contacts :

Holly Bignall, Extension Science, Engineering and Technology, (515) 294-2078, hbignall@iastate.edu

Jess Truby, Extension Science, Engineering and Technology, (515) 294-1991, jstruby@iastate.edu

Laura Sternweis, Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-0775, lsternwe@iastate.edu