Slime and gunk and snot, oh my!

4-H science, engineering and technology (SET) programs were on the hands-on learning menu in northern Michigan this summer, as Crawford County 4-H offered several programs that encouraged young minds and improved science proficiency in the county's youth.

4-H science, engineering and technology (SET) programs were on the hands-on learning menu in northern Michigan this summer, as Crawford County 4-H offered several programs that encouraged young minds and improved science proficiency in the county’s youth.

On August 5, a 4-H SET workshop was held at the Grayling Nature Center. Youth going into third through sixth grade were welcome to attend the workshop and participate in SET activities. Participants were able to create/program robots, cars, tools, burglar alarms, FM radios, strobe lights and unique jewelry that they designed themselves. The workshop also included slime, goo snot, gunk-making, bubble-making, magnet activities, static electricity and air power. This workshop was a preview of a few of the things that youth could do if they attended the 4-H Science in Action Day Camp.

Funded by a national 4-H grant from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the 4-H Science in Action Day Camp took place August 17–19 at the Grayling Nature Center. Each day a healthy breakfast, lunch and snack were provided with a very strong focus on fruits and vegetables.

One camp activity had each participant (and helper) carry around a pedometer to measure the steps taken throughout the three days. Whenever there was a moment not taken up by a planned activity, the kids were jumping, walking, bouncing or hopping around.

Monday was world culture day, where youth could discover differences and similarities, play games and make crafts from around the world. They did an experiment coating color-changing UV beads with an assortment of suntan lotions. Some had different SPF factors and one was even outdated. The kids were able to see the different levels of protection and then were able to use the beads in their crafts to remind them that if their beads changed colors, they needed sun protection.

Tuesday was technology and obstacle course day. Youth could choose between snap circuits, Lego™ robotics and jewelry making. The kids who worked with the snap circuits began with an empty circuit board and created UFO launchers, burglar alarms, FM radios and much more. This was an outstanding group-learning project and the kid’s problem-solved solutions very successfully.

The youth who chose Lego™ robotics learned about touch sensors and light sensors. They used motors, pulleys, gears and bricks to create robots, vehicles and machines. The obstacle course included running, jumping, balance beams, hula-hoops, tire steps, tug of war, balloon races and disc golf.

Wednesday was treasure hunt day. Using GPS units, kids had to locate pre-entered coordinates. The next step was to interpret information from food labels to determine how far they needed to walk to get to the desired location. They had to know the basics of GPS navigation and how to read a food label to get to the right spot.

Kids also filled a 50-foot long solar bag with air by running with it and then closing the end of the bag. The sun heated the air inside, and within minutes it started to fly on its own, teaching youth about air, molecules, buoyancy and heat.

Many prizes were given away during the three-day camp, most of which were objects that were related to SET or encouraged physical activity. Every participant received at least two kick sacs and a boomerang, while other prizes included sports balls, magnet activities, squirt guns, games, toys and kites.

Earlier in the spring, Crawford County 4-H also had a “Mad Scientist” club. Each week offered a healthy snack, a SET activity and some form of exercise. The kids loved making butter, ice cream and bubbles, using the Nintendo Wii and playing Dance Dance Revolution.


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