Apollo Anniversary Serves as Launchpad for 4-H Aerospace Discovery

July 15, 2019, 10:38 am | Bonnie Dalager, Sara Nelson

AMES, Iowa –The 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch and moon landing has reinvigorated interest around the world in aerospace, and the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program is providing youth with a variety of opportunities and avenues to explore their interest in the aerospace project area.

youth with pop bottle rocket.In July 1969 an estimated 530 million people watched Neil Armstrong’s televised image as he took “a giant leap for mankind” on the surface of the moon. On July 16, 2019, some Iowa State University Extension and Outreach county offices are offering youth the opportunity to participate in the Global Rocket Launch challenge, an effort by the U.S. Space and Rocket Center to break a world record for launching rockets on one day. Teachers, classes, clubs and groups from around the world will be working together to launch rockets in honor of the Apollo anniversary. Iowa 4-H has developed a facilitator support guide for county offices and 4-H volunteers to utilize with their local groups while participating in this event.

“We’re excited that Iowa 4-H youth will be participating in the Global Rocket Launch on the same day as other youth around the world,” said Sara Nelson, 4-H STEM specialist, who authored the facilitator support guide. For example, ISU Extension and Outreach Jones County will conduct 4-H Rocket Blast Off activities for youth July 16 at the Jones County Fair.

“However, the activities in the guide can be used throughout the year to encourage youth to learn about rockets and NASA,” Nelson said.

In Story County, Team Neutrino, the 4-H FIRST robotics team, and Cardinal Space Mining, an Iowa State University NASA Robotic Mining Competition team, are partnering to host a “Rocket Day” on Saturday, July 20. Participants will build and launch 2-liter bottle rockets and experience the launching of a 5-foot-tall rocket with G-80 engine.

Appanoose County is getting in on the fun during their county fair. They’re hosting a public rocket launch geared toward youth. Courtney Chapman, ISU Extension and Outreach Appanoose county youth coordinator, is looking forward to the event.

“I’m excited for these young people to feel a connection to history. They’ll have an opportunity to learn about what happened 50 years ago and how the space program has grown. A rocket launch is a fun way to get young people excited about aerospace,” Chapman said.

Later this year, the FLEx mobile learning platform will be adding activities related to aerospace discovery as well. FLEx provides direct access to engaging and impactful STEM experiences for Iowa youth. FLEx Space is designed to engage youth around the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11, the 60th Anniversary of NASA, and a variety of historical, current, and future earth and space concepts.

Zahydee Machado, Iowa State University undergraduate research assistant for FLEx Space, is excited to bring current space efforts to life through interactive youth programming.

youth with balloons“I have been able to work with a lot of new technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality. Using these technologies to create activities for young people has been a great experience,” said Machado.  

Van Buren County is partnering with many local partners to provide aerospace exploration for youth in grades K-5. Several program activities are being offered over the summer, including activities from the “Blast Off!” lesson included in the newly-released STEM-Lit to Go! Iowa Clover Kids curriculum.

Jennifer Plowman, Van Buren County youth coordinator, said, “Lots of young people want to be an astronaut when they grow up. This is a great opportunity to provide a hands-on experience for youth. Providing information about real astronauts and relevant history can help them with future career goals and encourage them to continue learning.”

ISU Extension and Outreach Black Hawk County has presented aerospace-related STEM programs in partnership with four local libraries through their 4-H program this year. Youth participated in engaging, hands-on educational activities and discussions about aerospace and STEM-related careers.

Each week, up to 40 young people developed skills in cooperation and leadership while exploring a variety of activities from curricula such as STEM-Lit to Go!, Discover: Mission to Mars and Astronomy, and Global Rocket Launch.

Eleni Parsons, ISU Extension and Outreach Black Hawk County STEM assistant commented on the response they received from their youth participants.

“They had a blast sorting galaxies, measuring the distance between planets, planning a space meal plan, making astronaut pudding, and creating constellations,” Parsons said.

“Learning more about aerospace is an exciting way to get young people interested in STEM. Science, technology, engineering and math are increasingly relevant to our everyday lives,” said Sara Nelson, Iowa 4-H Youth Development STEM Lead. “These aerospace events also provide opportunities for the exploration of future careers for Iowa youth.”

FLEx Space was funded in part by a grant from the Iowa Space Grant Consortium.

For more information on the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program, or to learn more about Iowa 4-H project areas like aerospace, please contact your local county ISU Extension and Outreach office or visit the Iowa 4-H website at www.extension.iastate.edu/4h.


Photos: Youth participate in aerospace activities at 4-H events in Iowa.


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