November 11, 2009

Eighth-graders from Christian and Trigg counties got a jumpstart on career exploration when they attended the 4-H Everyday Engineering Camp hosted by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service in Christian County.

The three-day, two-night camp held at West Kentucky 4-H Camp allowed the 42 participants to explore career possibilities in several different engineering fields by using 4-H's Science, Engineering and Technology curriculum and with help from local and UK engineering specialists.

"I think it helped the students hear from specialists who use engineering principles in their everyday lives," said Toni Riley, Christian County 4H Youth development agent.

Campers attended many classes including food engineering, National Energy Education Development curriculum, robotics, rope bridge building, Gak plastics, water quality testing in a session called Surveying and Environmental Engineering, 4-H SET Rocketry, Biofuel Blast, Project Lead the Way and Snap Electronics.

"The goal of this camp was to introduce students who were not traditional 4-H'ers to 4-H's SET curriculum, provide them with information on engineering career opportunities and high school courses needed for a college engineering major and use hands-on activities to teach different engineering concepts," Riley said.

The camp was the brainchild of Daphne Dixon, a 4-H alumna and teacher with Christian County Public Schools. Dixon developed the idea for the engineering camp while teaching a rocketry lesson as a counselor at the county's 4-H Summer Camp.

The camp was funded in part through a 4-H Toyota Water Grant and a National Energy Education Development grant. Additional partners included Christian and Trigg public schools, Project Lead the Teachers, Christian County Gifted and Talented Program, Christian County Solid Waste and Christian County 4-H Council.

In addition to the hands-on activities, 4-H'ers had the opportunity to talk with three engineering doctoral students at Carnegie Mellon University through Internet conferencing about topics including the doctoral student's college preparation, career goals and current research projects.

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