Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Students Turn Science Teachers for 4-H National Youth Science Day

Charles Johnson and Alyssa Campbell fifth grade students demonstrate the effects of carbon dioxide on the atmosphere and what we can do to replace our carbon footprint at Hearst Elementary School in Washington, DC. The experiment was part of the 4-H National Youth Science Day, National Science Experiment, 4-H2O, Tuesday, October 6, 2010.

Charles Johnson and Alyssa Campbell fifth grade students demonstrate the effects of carbon dioxide on the atmosphere and what we can do to replace our carbon footprint at Hearst Elementary School in Washington, DC. The experiment was part of the 4-H National Youth Science Day, National Science Experiment, 4-H2O.

I went back to school yesterday. And my teachers were fourth graders.

Fourth grade students at Hearst Elementary School in Washington, DC taught me and 200 other students about climate change, water quality and carbon footprints through the 4-H National Science Experiment.  All across the country and world, hundreds of thousands of students were doing the same set of experiments today as part of 4-H National Youth Science Day.  We saw how carbon dioxide builds up in the atmosphere and what its effects can be.  Watching students make connections between their actions and the environment was really exciting for me, and with a sixth grader of my own, it was fun to experience science with these students and get a glimpse of how empowering science can be for these youngsters.

4-H has deep roots in all the different components of our education system.  It also has a special relationship to USDA; it’s an outgrowth of our land-grant university system and cooperative extension service, and we’ve had a USDA office for 4-H since its inception a hundred years ago.  Science, too, has a special relationship to USDA – it’s the basis for practically everything we do at the Department. From providing nutritious food for children to using our natural resources wisely, science informs our efforts to improve the lives of the American people.  4-H National Youth Science Day brings both of these valuable assets – science and kids — together, and helps us educate a new generation about the science that goes on behind the scenes here at USDA.

This new generation of students will be critical to USDA and to agriculture more broadly. Between 2010 and 2015 we think there will be at least 54,000 U.S. job openings in food, renewable energy and the environment.  Organizations like 4-H play an important role in getting students interested in science and on track for careers in agriculture, science and engineering.

As the kids and I worked through the experiments, what I noticed most were their excellent questions and thoughtful comments –the true hallmarks of emerging scientific minds. To a scientist like myself, it gives me double satisfaction to see elementary students so engaged and curious about science.  I’m looking forward to seeing those children grow up to be the biologists, pathologists and nutritionists – the scientists and engineers – the USDA and the world will depend on for future innovation.

Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and fifth grade student from Hearst Elementary School in Washington, DC,  discuss the effect of algae on water. The experiment was part of the 4-H National Youth Science Day, National Science Experiment, 4-H2O, Tuesday, October 6, 2010. Students learned about the importance of water quality and its impact on the environment with experiments to discover how to reduce their carbon footprint. USDA Photo 10di1518-14 by Bob Nichols.

Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and fifth grade student from Hearst Elementary School in Washington, DC, discuss the effect of algae on water. The experiment was part of the 4-H National Youth Science Day, National Science Experiment, 4-H2O. Students learned about the importance of water quality and its impact on the environment with experiments to discover how to reduce their carbon footprint.

Carolina Bayon (left) a fifth grade student at Hearst Elementary School in Washington, DC,  explains the effect of algae on water quality to second grade students. The experiment was part of the 4-H National Youth Science Day, National Science Experiment, 4-H2O, Tuesday, October 6, 2010. Students learned about the importance of water quality and its impact on the environment with experiments to discover how to reduce their carbon footprint

Carolina Bayon (left) a fifth grade student at Hearst Elementary School in Washington, DC, explains the effect of algae on water quality to second grade students. The experiment was part of the 4-H National Youth Science Day, National Science Experiment, 4-H2O, Tuesday, October 6, 2010. Students learned about the importance of water quality and its impact on the environment with experiments to discover how to reduce their carbon footprint

One Response to “Students Turn Science Teachers for 4-H National Youth Science Day”

  1. Sandi Fall, 5th Grade Hearst Parent says:

    Yes, indeed this was quite an amazing event, I was so proud of my daughter, Aziza, (3rd frame: 3rd child from the left, Will to her right, and Sade to her left) and all her Fifth Grade Senior Classmates. This class has led the charge of Recycle – Reuse for the school, promoting energy awareness and conservation. They were truly able to shine as the “teachers” of the moment. Senior Ragan Johnson said it was her best day of school this year! Kudos their teacher Mrs. Gassert, Mr. Kerlina, our principal, and the entire Hearst Staff and Community. With the energetic, considerate and generous leadership from the staff of our local 4-H, DC, our children were turned on and tuned into science with a new perspective on water conservation and preservation. I look forward to more interaction with 4-H, DC. They helped to create an outstanding science experience for our children…

Leave a Reply