Rockin' the green movement

4-H youth in Sanilac County are "rockin' the green movement" through new science, engineering and technology (SET) programming efforts that have been made possible through a 4-H participation fee grant.

4-H youth in Sanilac County are “rockin’ the green movement” through new science, engineering and technology (SET) programming efforts that have been made possible through a 4-H participation fee grant. During April of 2009, 4-H youth were able to assemble and display an exhibit at the first annual Sanilac County Earth Fair, kicking off their new Go Green! Planet 4-H project.

More than 200 visitors were treated to this display at the Sanilac County Earth Fair. The exhibit included a working model windmill that pumped water from a beaker and lit up a light bulb. The windmill also provided energy to power a fuel-cell car. In addition, a “Power of the Wind” display (including art projects that depict windmills through time and an opportunity to cut out fabric to sew a pinwheel quilt block) provided hands-on activities in which kids could participate.

The opportunity to hand dip bugs from a manmade stream and to explore displays on water quality, prey and predator and soil erosion made this exhibit exciting for visitors. After dipping in the stream, youth were invited to place their “catch” under a microscope to get a close-up view of the water insects.

The Go Green! Planet 4-H project encourages youth and volunteers to use SET methods to help raise awareness and bring resolution to the worldwide social problem of global warming, threats to natural resources and the need to increase eco-friendly or “green” living. Interested Sanilac County 4-H youth were selected to participate in the building of an actual three-dimensional foam-core model, known as Planet 4-H.

Sanilac County is strategically located near the Huron Wind Farms, has 42 miles of Lake Huron Shoreline, holds wind-power potential and has highly desirable soil to support the types of crops for bio-fuels that are the basis for “green” SET programming. The project began with youth walking an actual piece of Sanilac County lakefront property in order to record site features. The walk allowed youth to plan the schematics that provided the basis for Planet 4-H.

Planet 4-H will be built with the help of a local architect, a science teacher and a local naturalist who will work together with 4-H youth, Lawrence Tech engineering students, MSU engineering students and MSU faculty. Through the project, youth will be allowed to intern at the architect’s office using computer aided design (CAD) software in order to create the site plans for Planet 4-H. 4-H’ers will be able to set up the display at interested schools across Sanilac County and, additionally, the model will be available at various other locations throughout Michigan for public access and viewing.

4-H youth have also created a Green Squad that will work on the various offshoot projects to the larger Go Green! Planet 4-H project. Funding is being sought to support the creation of a video, as well as other written materials as part of the project. Grants have been submitted to fund the video/written materials and an additional grant will be submitted to form a Conservation Council.

Through this cooperative effort of the community, 4-H youth and volunteers, and the MSU community, the public can be informed of the potential “green” measures that will conserve energy, tap clean resources, decrease global warming and preserve precious natural resources – all the while teaching youth more about science, engineering and technology.

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