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Engineering and Agriculture = Fun, Learning and Teambuilding

Youth had only 2 hours to design a bridge that would support a semi load of vegetables.

When you hear the word agriculture, it probably evokes words like “farming, livestock or dirt” and maybe even the smell of manure.  For people who work in the agriculture industry, it reminds them of words like “hard work, long days, sweat” and the smell of money.  But did you know that science and technology- especially engineering- play an ever increasing role in supplying our nation (and world) with a safe and affordable food supply?

Thanks to generous support from HughesNet, 4-Hers across Florida have been learning just how much the agriculture industry needs technology.  This week, 4-Hers from Jackson, Liberty, Gadsden and Leon counties participated in an engineering day camp.  Each day, they learned how civil engineers design the infrastructure needed for farmers to get their food from the farm to tables across the state and nation.  The program concluded with an engineering challenge at the North Florida Fairgrounds in Tallahassee.

Youth were judged on their innovation, creativity and teamwork- all essential skills for engineers who solve today’s problems!

Youth had two hours to design, build and test a bridge that would hold a large semi-truck of produce.  The results were inspiring!  Teams were judged on their creative use of materials, innovative design, teamwork and communication skills.  They also completed a skill-a-thon to showcase their knowledge of bridge design.  This challenge was practice for the contest that will be held in November during 4-H Day at the North Florida Fair.  To find out more information about other 4-H programs like this, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org.

North Florida Fair STEM Contest info

4-H Science and Technology Projects

Technology at Camp = Problem Solvers

HughesNet and Florida 4-H have teamed up to help youth learn how to use science and technology to solve problems!

Most people think of camp as a break from the fast-paced technological world, but that’s not always the case.  With a $10,000 grant from HughesNet, Florida 4-H is introducing technology in a meaningful way across our state this summer!  As a result of the sponsorship, 340 youth will learn about the engineering design process, and how to use technology and engineering to solve real world issues such as energy, water and conservation.

 “We are grateful for the partnership with a technology leader like HughesNet to get more kids interested in how STEM affects our lives and offers great career paths,” said Michael Gutter, UF/IFAS associate dean for Extension and state program leader for 4-H youth development, families and communities. “Camp is a fun way to learn about STEM and a great way for youth to spend part of their summer.”

During one camp, youth learned how civil engineers design safe bridges to transport people, food and medical supplies. STEM in action!

STEM at Camp is part of a national effort by HughesNet and National 4-H Council to spark youth interest in STEM topics.  Florida was one of four states selected to receive a Summer Camp STEM grant. The other states include Illinois, Maine and Virginia. This is the third consecutive year that HughesNet has supported STEM at Camp programs and the first year that Florida has been a recipient of this funding.

Next week, Florida Panhandle youth have two camps to choose from: Bots by the Bay at 4-H Camp Timpoochee and Wildlife Camp in Monticello, Florida.  During Bots by the Bay camp, youth will learn how to program 3-dimensional printers to print, build and test robots and cars.  During Wildlife Camp, youth will learn how technology is used to protect natural resources and grow our agricultural industry.  Our goal is to spark an interest in using technology to solve real world problems that affect our food safety and supply, as well as our overall quality of life.

National 4-H Council and HughesNet are dedicated to sparking youth interest in STEM topics through hands-on, community-based STEM learning. In addition to STEM at Camp, HughesNet works with National 4-H Council to support STEM programs such as the 4-H Youth In Action STEM Pillar award, National Engineering Week and National Youth Science Day – the world’s largest youth-led STEM challenge.  This year’s experiment, Incredible Wearables, helps youth explore the world of wearable technology as the design, built and test a fitness monitor.  If you have a passion for technology, or simply like to help kids learn, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer.  For more information about 4-H, visit our website or contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.