Thousands of Kids Get Involved in "Motion Commotion" for World's Largest Youth-Led Science Experiment

Former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin joins 4-H National Youth Science Day in experiment to spark youth interest in STEM

Oct 07, 2015, 15:10 ET from National 4-H Council

CHEVY CHASE, Md., Oct. 7, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Hundreds of thousands of youth across the United States, and some globally, are conducting the world's largest, youth-led science experiment as part of 4-H National Youth Science Day (4-H NYSD), which launched today in communities across the nation. The "Motion Commotion" experiment was designed by Oregon State University Cooperative Extension in partnership with Vernier Software & Technology and challenges youth to explore the physical and human factors of motion in distracted driving.

In its eighth year, 4-H NYSD events take place across the nation – in all 50 states and Puerto Rico throughout the year. National 4-H Council hosted the flagship national event at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. on October 7, where NFL player-turned-NASA astronaut, Leland Melvin, and more than 300 youth led the experiment. The national sponsors of 2015 4-H NYSD are Lockheed Martin, HughesNet and U.S. Cellular.

Youth conducted the two-part "Motion Commotion" experiment using every day materials – including a toy car, modeling clay, ruler, calculator and cell phone – to explore physics in the real-world. In the first phase, youth constructed a simulated runway to analyze the speed, momentum and kinetic energy of a car in motion, and explored the science behind the car's collisions. In the second phase, they led an experiment that uses the same physics principles to demonstrate the consequences of distracted driving.

"Combating the shortage of American young people pursuing science college majors and careers, starts with recognizing the STEM skills gap is really about a STEM attraction gap," says Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of National 4-H Council. "Sparking interest in STEM education at an early age puts young people on the right path to build the pipeline of the next generation of STEM leaders. As the nation's largest positive youth development organization we see every day how the combination of hands-on science experiences and professional mentors can make a world of difference in growing a child's love for science."

Experts believe nearly all of the 30 fastest-growing occupations in the next decade will require at least some science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) training, including an estimated 2.8 million STEM jobs that will be created by 2018; however, studies show only 16 percent of American youth are interested in a STEM career. The national rallying event for 4-H Science, 4-H NYSD is an interactive learning experience that gets youth excited about STEM, and spotlights the many ways millions of youth are engaging in 4-H Science programs year-round.

"Working with students and seeing them excited about learning science, technology and math is as awe-inspiring as galactic space travel," says Leland Melvin, who served on two Space Shuttle missions (STS-122 Atlantis and STS-129). "Being a part of 4-H National Youth Science Day gives me the opportunity to share my story and inspire the next generation of explorers."

A recent longitudinal study conducted by Tufts University, The Positive Development of Youth: Comprehensive Findings from the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development revealed 4-H programming does indeed get young people more connected to science. According to the study, 4-Hers are two times more likely to participate in science programs during out-of-school time (grades 10-12) and 4-H girls are two times more likely (grade 10) and nearly three times more likely (grade 12) to take part in science programs, compared to girls in other out-of-school time activities.

For every year since 2008, youth have completed more than 5 million 4-H Science and 4-H NYSD projects in robotics, agricultural science, rocketry, wind power, environmental science and alternative energy. To learn more about all of the 4-H Science programs available to young people, visit

About 4-H:
4-H, the nation's largest youth development and empowerment organization, cultivates confident kids who tackle the issues that matter most in their communities right now. In the United States, 4-H programs empower six million young people through the 109 land-grant universities and Cooperative Extension in more than 3,000 local offices serving every county and parish in the country. Outside the United States, independent, country-led 4-H organizations empower one million young people in more than 50 countries. National 4-H Council is the private sector, non-profit partner of the Cooperative Extension System and 4-H National Headquarters located at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

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SOURCE National 4-H Council