September 23, 2010

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Western Kentucky 4-H'ers learned how math and science can help them reach the sky, literally, during 4-H Aerospace Camp as they took the controls of an airplane with the help of a certified flight instructor at the Madisonville Municipal Airport.

The camp was a chance for 4-H'ers in grades 6 through 12 to apply the math and science concepts they learned in school to real-life scenarios. During the three-day camp, they completed activities in kite design and construction, rocketry, computer flight simulation and navigation using global positioning systems. In addition to the opportunity to fly a plane, another highlight for the campers was the chance to ride in a hot air balloon. 

"What we're really trying to answer with all of our science, engineering and technology programs is the why," said Torey Earle, 4-H agent-at-large for Science, Engineering and Technology with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. "The youth at this camp get to see the applied side of what they're learning in school."

This was the second year for the camp held at West Kentucky 4-H Camp in Dawson Springs.

Lloyd Saylor, Butler County 4H Youth development agent, started the camp. Saylor was inspired by Heath Martin, a former 4-H'er who's now a commercial airline pilot and flight instructor. He said Martin's interest in flying peaked when he attended a one-day tour/display program put on by the Navy as a teenager. After working in the aviation industry in other states, Martin returned to rural Western Kentucky where he taught Saylor, his former 4-H agent, how to fly. Saylor said he hopes this camp will spark other young people's interest in careers related to math and science.

"We want the kids to try some new and exciting things they may not have done before and give them a good appreciation of math and science," he said. "Flying is a lot of fun, but it's also a lot about physics, mathematics, GPS and navigation."

The camp definitely sparked the interest of campers Trevor Adams from Hopkins County and Katie Tyson from Logan County. Adams said he's interested in a career in aviation. While she does not foresee a career in aviation, Tyson said she loves science and would perhaps like to get her private pilot's license one day.

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