What Happened This Summer?

— Written By

Summer has come to an end and I’m looking forward to crisp fall mornings, plaid, and leaves crunching beneath my feet. However, the start of a new season always makes me reminisce about all the fun adventures I’ve had over the seasons. I’ve had a lot of fun this summer with all my 4-Hers, from Book Explorer’s, to Outbreak Alert; Love thy Neighbor, to Space Camp. This past week was our last Fun Friday with Love Thy Neighbor, and I can’t let the opportunity pass without giving a great big Thank You to Ms. Vicky Moseley-Jones and all of her volunteers who make this amazing program happen. I had a great time joining them on Fridays for creative activities, from rock candy, to volcanoes, braided key chains, parfaits, and painting shoes. I can’t wait for next summer’s programs.

Photo Collage: Fun Friday's, Child painting shoe, Volunteers, Children making rock candy, children make braclets

Fun Friday’s kept the fun going every week, but our 4-H summer was packed. Every other Monday we went on new adventures with our Book Explorer’s group at the Pamlico County Library (if you didn’t know all our librarians are awesome, summer wouldn’t be the same without all their hard work!). In Poland we learned all about Warsaw the capital of Poland, children had the opportunity to try a Polish dish of open-faced sandwiches with peas and eggs on top, and got to try their hand at creating their own piece of art following the traditional folk art of Polish paper cutting called Wycinanki. It was a lot of fun decorating our paper art roosters with colorful patterns. On our next adventure, we jetted off to Cambodia where we learned how they celebrate Chinese New Year, met the animals of the zodiac, made our own lanterns, and enjoyed a traditional Cambodian dish of sweet dumplings. Did you know they fill their dumplings with sesame seeds? They do, and it is tasty good! Even after those two adventures we were eager for more and hopped over to Puerto Rico! Puerto Rico abounds with colorful streets and some of those same streets even have blue cobblestones. We explored the fortress of San Cristobal, listened to Puerto Rican salsa music, and even made our own maracas so we could keep on dancing with an authentic twist. Then we enjoyed fried plantains with cinnamon sugar. It was de-lic-ious! Our adventures keep getting better! This week we spun our globe and landed in Nigeria. We learned about the different ethnic groups that live there including the Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba. We learned about geles, and ate some tasty akaras. Then we got creative using cassava flour paste to make designs for our adire fabric dyeing. Our last Book Explorers took us to London where we followed the Queen’s hat from Buckingham Palace across London to Kensington Gardens where a visitor told us all about the London Eye and the Ravens at the Tower of London; then joined us for Afternoon Tea.

Book Explorer's Collage: Child painting fabric for adire dying; Chinese Paper Lanterns; Afternoon Tea

As much fun as we’ve had jetting around the globe, we can’t forget all the great fun at our 4-H Day Camps. To me, summer is the best time to engage our curious side and that’s exactly what we did with Out Break Alert, and Out of this World Space Camp. Both camps focus on different aspects of engineering: biomedical, and aerospace. We engaged in free building, engineering challenges, and experiments.

Our week started by learning how scientists at the CDC work with highly contagious deadly viruses. The kids’ challenge was to design a quarantine box that would completely contain a virus while allowing scientists to perform tests on the virus without exposing themselves or their team to the virus. Next, we created model viruses to learn how viruses attack and infect cells by using an inflatable inner tube to model a cell, and Velcro to model the receptor that viruses use to attach and infiltrate the cell. Then our 4-Hers learned how federal, state, and local government budgets affect how well health services can affect communities’ preventative health measure. Our participants also learned how virus cells mutate to create different sometimes more deadly strains of virus, some examples being the many strains of flu from the common flu to the Spanish flu. They were able to experience the difference between antivirals and vaccines and create their own model of an antiviral. Then they created Public Safety Announcements, PSAs, to warn their communities about the Outbreak. Finally, they all got to engineer their own super virus and a vaccine to prevent their super virus from infecting the masses.

Outbreak Alert Photo Collage: Child presenting her PSA; Model of a cell, children posing with their model viruses

Space is exciting, and so foreign; there are a lot of things we don’t think about. Just to get off planet there’s a lot to consider: friction, pressure, and trajectories. 4-Her’s constructed rockets out of construction paper, foam, and transparency, then tested to see which had the greatest wind resistance. They followed those tests up by testing the length and width of rockets. Most challenging was learning how to calculate trajectories with a protractor. Rockets are awesome, but rovers are integral to learning about other planets. It is quite tempting to load up a rover with all the tools available, however every piece of equipment adds weight to their pay load. Rockets that initially could fly past Pluto, suddenly could barely make it to Mars when the pay load was increased! Launch time is exciting and rovers are thrilling, but space is cold, so how do astronauts keep themselves safe to conduct experiments? Gloves! The first step in designing a pair of astronaut gloves is learning how gloves can hinder our ability to perform tasks. The kids had a set of challenges to test three sets of gloves: vinyl, winter gloves, and oven mitts. Their challenges: separate a pile of paper clips into two separate cups in twenty seconds; find a hidden message in the bottom of a water filled pan; and finally open a glass jar in a pan of soapy water, remove three beads, and thread them onto a pipe cleaner. Learning how difficult it can be to perform tasks with thick gloves, set our kids up for their next challenge, designing their own gloves. They tested different insulating materials to see which protected against extreme temperatures the best. Then they had to think about impact. They designed their gloves to protect against both temperature and impact. They then tested their gloves by simulating bones with spaghetti and dropping weights to see which would protect astronauts hands the best. Sponges and Coffee Filters were a winning combination to protect for heat and impact.

Out of this World Photo Collage: Children Launching Foam Rockets; Child participating in a glove challenge, children dropping weights over simulated bones to test insulation

We had a lot of fun this summer, but it isn’t going to end now that school is starting. Check out our Autumn Fun Programs. We loved Book Explorer’s so much we’re going to keep it going once a month during the school year. This years Autumn STEM Club will be Robot’s and Programing with Dash and Cue. We are also excited to get our brains working with Debate Club. If you are interested in our Autumn Programs or want to learn more about the 4-H Program in Pamlico County contact Kait Neeland at (252) 745-4121, or kait_neeland@ncsu.edu, or check us out online at pamlico.ces.ncsu.edu.