On February 9th, five Baltimore County 4-H’ers took part in the new Maryland 4-H Dairy Skillathon!The primary objective of this contest is to provide an opportunity for 4-H’ers to demonstrate the breadth of their knowledge and understanding of animal science and management.
The contest consists of two phases: the quiz phase and the stations phase. In the quiz phase, contestants take a written quiz with questions about the total dairy industry.The stations phase consists of a series of stations where contestants respond to the requirements of the station.Examples of stations are dairy breed identification, general dairy equipment & milking equipment identification, feed identification, disease & parasite identification, and dairy products identification.At other stations there were questions about sire selection, reading a pedigree, and dairy cow anatomy & physiology.
Baltimore County 4-H ran its first ever “Ice Cream in Space” Workshop on January 26th, 2019. In two sessions we encouraged about 24 participants, ranging in age from 6 to 14, to make ice cream from non-refrigerated milk products. Added of course were chocolate chips, M&Ms, sprinkles and strawberry syrup.
The purpose was to demonstrate that tasty ice cream could be produced for travel up to the International Space Station (ISS) and beyond. Using the bag in a bag technique, each participant made his or her own ice cream. The dairy products, all available commercially and non-refrigerated, included milk, cream, evaporated milk, vanilla and sugar. There is no refrigeration aboard the ISS.
As we move forward, we hope to develop this into a long-range STEM program, involving agricultural, aerospace and mechanical engineering, food science students, among others. We will need outreach as well- marketing/Twitter/Blogging/grant applications. Getting approval to place experiments aboard the ISS is a complicated and lengthy process, but we have some help.
NanoRacks, Inc., a NASA commercial partner, has provided encouragement that our project is suitable for ISS and will help us achieve these goals. NanoRacks provided swag and videos at the workshop. The Director of Marketing is my daughter
We look forward to organizing a program over the next few months
Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the many contributions of Hispanic and Latin people to the world. This is true in 4-H as well since the organization seeks to provide a “supportive and inclusive setting for all youth to reach their fullest potential in a diverse society”. Many Hispanic scientists have added to the body of knowledge that we now enjoy. Did you know Dr. Mario Molina is a chemist who received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1995? He was recognized for his work in helping to identify the man made compounds that contribute to the destruction of the ozone layer? Dr. Luis Federico Leloir also won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1970. He is known for his discovery that sugar nucleotides help the body turn some sugars into energy. We salute these and all Hispanic scientists this month and every month because in Baltimore County 4-H Grows Here!
Baltimore County 4-H is pleased to share a blog post written by our 2 State Aerospace champions, Logan Moon and Craig Stone. While one of our 4-H’ers is starting his 4-H career, the other is finishing it out and beginning the next chapter of his life in college. Best of luck to both of these fine youth.
By Logan, Age 10, Hunt Valley Robotics Club
I’ll never forget July 22, 2018. It was a Sunday, and it was the finals of the Maryland 4-H Aerospace Challenge. After the qualifier in June where I presented judges with a stomp rocket I had made, I was so excited to qualify for the finals. I spent weeks studying rocket parts, building model rockets, and learning facts on aerodynamics, rocketry, and model rocket safety. It was hard taking time out during my summer vacation to prepare for the challenge, but I did it because I wanted to do well at the competition.
I had butterflies in my stomach when we drove there that day, but since I had been at the competition last year, I felt better as soon as we got out of the car because I recognized the building and the adult volunteers who tried to keep the day fun. I was relieved when the first part of the challenge was to name parts of the rocket. I got through it quickly, and it helped me feel more confident to complete the knowledge test which was a lot harder. Lastly, they had us build a model rocket with a payload section. That’s the part of some model rockets that carry cargo. This year the juniors would launch a live cricket in our rockets. I felt a little weird about that because I’m not sure if our crickets wanted to take a ride in our rockets. Before we left the table, I decorated my rocket that I named the Cricket Crusader, and I had to double check the fins and launch lug to make sure they were on straight otherwise the rocket wouldn’t fly straight, and I knew my cricket was depending on me to make sure he was safe. After our rockets dried, it was time to launch. All I wanted was to do better than I did last year. Last year my rocket fizzled out on the launch rod and never took flight.
When they asked who wanted to go first, I volunteered. I was so nervous and excited. Five, four, three, two, one, lift off. My rocket launched straight up, the parachute deployed, and the cricket landed safely inside the payload. After the judges inspected the rocket one last time, I released my cricket. He was alive, and I felt relieved. I did it! My rocket launched! No matter where I placed I felt proud of myself. It turned out that all of that hard work paid off. I was awarded the junior champion ribbon. It’s a ribbon that means so much to me, and the challenge is an experience I will always remember.
By Craig Stone, Age 18, Sparks 4-H Club
“Throughout my 4-H career, I have participated in various types of activities. Out of the many activities I have participated in, the aerospace program has influenced me quite a bit. I have been participating in the Maryland 4-H Aerospace Challenge for about five years, and it has taught me many things about rocketry that I didn’t know before. For example, I never knew that the maximum height a rocket reaches in its flight path is called apogee. The aerospace program that 4-H has to offer is extremely beneficial to the 4-H youth because it uses the experiential learning model in “learning to do by doing.” This teaches the 4-Hers about all sorts of scientific discoveries in a way they would never experience in school. Overall, my 4-H aerospace experience has greatly influenced my 4-H career, and will continue to help me through college and beyond.”
We are members of the Hunt Valley 4-H LEGO Robotics team. We have been learning about the FBI and some of the ways they keep us safe. Our club would like to tell you about the importance of internet safety! Here are some tips we learned from the FBI:
Don’t use your name, birthdate or address in your password
This can cause someone to track you down
It is safer to use websites that end in .gov, .edu and .org
Things that end in .gov stand for government
Things that end in .edu stand for education
The website more likely to be appropriate for kids
Don’t download any app without your parent or guardian’s permission…it may be a scam!
This could be a scam and what a scam is a trick that people play to gets someone’s location
Create a password that is 13 characters long and made up of letters, numbers and symbols
If you have a username that is short and has your name, it is unsafe because this is giving away personal information
Don’t share your password with anyone
If you share your password with anyone except parent or guardian someone might do something bad to you
Follow all of these tips and maybe when you grow up you can help the FBI too!
On an unseasonably warm day in February about 200 high and middle school youth experienced the life of George Washington Carver. On February 15, 2018, University of Maryland Extension, Baltimore County 4-H Educators Vernelle Mitchell-Hawkins and Dwayne Murphy led the day with the help of many supporting partners. The morning was set aside for high school youth to simulate key points from Carver’s career. Students from Benjamin Franklin High School and George Washington Carver High School were in attendance for the morning session.
Coming off of buses, students were excited to be in a beautiful open space of pastures, grass, barns at the Baltimore County Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park, fondly known as the Ag Center. This facility was used on this day as a learning space filled with hands-on activities, animals, books, teachers, scientists, and volunteers. The groups were divided and some went to the Horse Arena to learn from University of Maryland Extension Soil Nutrient Management Advisor Erika Crowl as she shared Agri-science concepts about the dairy industry. Erika began by teaching the students that Extension is the community education portion of the Land-Grant Universities like University of Maryland. She then related the Extension concept to George Washington Carver’s work with the traveling Jesup Agricultural Wagon. This wagon was known as a “movable school” used for teaching and sharing knowledge from the local University with the community to improve farms.
Shaking the cream up
Erika teaching about the uses of dairy products.
Explaining the process for making butter from dairy.
Calves just a few weeks old.
Two dairy calves greeted the youth at the entrance of the arena – just like what may have been seen in the 1800’s when Carver was traveling to farms. In Erika’s session, students learned about the components of milk and what products can be made from cows. They also got to make butter using real cream and conducted a taste test of the final product. Interestingly, Carver has been credited for making a milk type product from peanuts and as a substitute for cow’s milk.
Next, the youth went to the Romney Cheviot Mix sheep that live at the Ag Center to learn about other products that Carver would have helped farmers produce. This included a discussion about the importance and uses for wool. They also learned about animal behavior and how to take care of sheep. From the sheep they went on to a session presented by University of Maryland Extension Plant Pathologist, Andy Kness who talked about what he does as an Agricultural Agent. Much like Carver, Andy is our “Plant Doctor” as George Washington Carver was also fondly called. The students got to play a plant vs. pathogen simulation game and learned all about how plant cells work to fight against bacteria. Andy discussed the impact of disease on plants and how it affects other parts of the food chain.
Andy Kness Plant Pathologist
Youth playing plant vs pathogen game.
A close up of the game board.
Everyone had a chance to be a plant or a pathogen.
Did the plant win this time?
As the group moved from the Arena to the Exhibit Barn, students stopped and saw the week old chicks that are also in residence at the Ag Center. This provided a valuable teachable moment about life cycle as well as proper growing conditions of animals.
These are all concepts that would have been discussed on the Jesup Wagon in Carver’s day. Inside the Exhibit Barn the Baltimore County Library conducted a discussion about the life of George Washington Carver and the many books written about him. In addition, to his work in the sciences, Carver was a gifted artist and studied art at Simpson College in Iowa in 1890. It was through this experience of drawing and painting botanical samples that he was encouraged to enroll in the Botany program at the Iowa State Agricultural College. The youth enjoyed examples of his artwork. As a memorial to his artistic life and belief in reusing materials, the participants made flowers from recycled comic books. This craft was chosen to represent and remember the fact that Carver always work a flower in the lapel of his jacket.
Everyone had a chance to make a flower.
The final product.
Creating a lapel flower.
Reproductions of George Washington Carver’s artwork.
Students working with used comic books.
As the students moved into the main room of the Ag Center’s main building, they had many stations to choose from to learn more about agricultural science and George Washington Carver’s contributions to society. One of the stations featured real cotton still on the plant. At this station students learned about King Cotton and how the Boll Weevil devastated the crop in the 1800’s. Carver actively promoted alternative crops to cotton and taught several methods to prevent soil depletion. The youth got to see microscopic samples of various fibers from cotton to wool to synthetics to learn about their different properties. Leading this station was Alex Smith, a volunteer for the day from Tree Baltimore.
Youth trying a source for protein, insects.
Cotton was a major crop during the time of Carver.
Over 250 insects were eaten at the event.
Alexa Smarr teaches all about insects and what we can do with them.
There was also a station headed by Alexa Smarr, University of Maryland Extension Horticulturist and Master Gardener Coordinator. She taught students about the nutritional benefits of eating insects for a low cost high yield form of protein. Students had the opportunity to try from a number of different kinds of insects including such as pizza flavored crickets, mango silkworms, basil mealworms, and others. Over 250 insects were eaten during the event. As a plant doctor Carver worked to help plants that were infested with various kinds of insects. He also worked to help people find food sources that were affordable and nutritious.
Kelsey Brooks shows youth about storm water run off and pollutants.
Making their own storm water experiment.
Taking a closer look at what happens to pollutants on the ground.
The dye was used to simulate pollutants.
Another favorite station was the storm water runoff simulation. Youth working with University of Maryland Extension Watershed Restoration Specialist Kelsey Brooks learned how the various layers beneath the ground are affected by both water and pollutants. A hands-on experiment was conducted by all the youth that went through this enlightening station. George Washington Carver was a steward of the land and was instrumental in educating southern farmers on the practice of crop rotation. He was especially known for teaching about rotating the cotton crops with peanut plants to aid restoring nitrogen to the soil.
There was a beekeeper station that was taught by MARC volunteer Devra Kitterman, who shared about honey making, pollination and the value of bees in agriculture. She had honey bee boxes on site and shared how bees play a part in the larger ecosystem.
Additionally, there was also a soybean station set up for students to explore. At this station they learned in a “shell game” style activity that soybeans have become a major crop in the food system and is found in many common food items. Wes Jamison, Gayle Ensor and Mimi Colson Leaning from Maryland Agricultural Resource Council volunteered at this station. They also shared information about how Carver conducted research on the soybean plant and created dozens of new uses for the plant including plastics for cars, foods, home products and plant based gasoline. They also offered samples of Wow Butter, a peanut butter substitute made from soybeans butter.
Christine Allred, a 4-H Educator from St. Mary’s County shared about beans, their anatomy and growth. Youth had a chance to do their own discoveries with beans using iodine to bring out the characteristics of the beans. This experiment illustrated to students how Carver’s work to prove that beans are a good source of starchy nutrition. Martha Pindale from American Landscape Institute was also on hand to share information about Landscaping and Horticulture as a viable career path for anyone interested in following in the footsteps of Carver.
The results of adding iodine to beans.
Students added iodine to better see the parts of the bean.
Christine Alfred talking about the parts of the bean.
Getting a closer look.
Last but not least was food preservation. George Washington Carver also did work in the area of home economics and safe food preservation. To simulate this area of his research, youth made their own strawberry preserves. Dr. Shauna Henley, Family and Consumer Science Educator for University of Maryland Extension taught the youth many aspects of food safety and preservation of food. She taught almost 200 people how to safely make jam using fresh strawberries and research based canning techniques.
Mixed bowl of strawberries and sugar getting ready to preserve.
High students from George Washington Carver were a big help in the afternoon with middle schoolers.
Students had an opportunity to lean about what you can do with a harvest of fruits and vegetables.
Dr. Shauna Henley helping the youth make strawberry preserves.
One of the most important ingredients, pectin is being mixed together.
Mixing the preserves together.
Setting up tasting cups.
The high school youth at George Washington Carver were student mentors in the afternoon sessions with middle schoolers helping out in the various stations. They gave hands-on support to our educators and help make the afternoon run more smoothly. Just as Carver himself, who took his experiments and teaching on the road to farmers with the “Jesup wagon” the students that helped to bring agricultural education and the life of Carver to youth from around the area came out away from their school to share their new found knowledge.
On a cold winter morning, the youth of Baltimore County engaged in hands-on experiments to explore more about how agriculture and science are interconnected. Investigations were conducted to determine how advances in agriculture can help solve human issues surrounding food security and health. There were four stations for each group to rotate to perform a new experiment.
Leading the youth on the question of how does DNA look and can it be removed from foods was Vernelle Mitchell-Hawkins, 4-H Educator. At this station, youth were given a banana to mash and to filter to extract the DNA from the fruit.
Lynne Thomas, a senior 4-H’er with the Baldwin 4-H Club in Baltimore County, taught the class on flower dissection at the Winter Wonder Lab workshop. At this station, Lynne showed the students how to dissect flowers and identify the different parts. They discussed the process of pollination and why pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, are so crucial for food production.
Lynne said she volunteered to help with this workshop because she plans to major in agriculture education in college. “I enjoy teaching people about where their food comes from and dispelling misinformation about the agriculture industry,” says Lynne.
At another table was Santana Mays, 4-H alumni and the college student studying to become a teacher. Santana lead workshop on how to judge meats. She had a station of four cuts of pork and beef. The youth were taught about what makes a good cut of meat. Next, they each had an opportunity to judge which was the best. Many of the kids commented that they didn’t know that there was a competition for meat judging and that it was something they could participate in through 4-H.
At Dwayne Murphy’s station, the youth had the opportunity to use a refractometer to determine the concentrations of liquid solutions. Each person tested the amount of sugar in fresh fruit as compared to a fruit drink. Which do you think had more sugar? You guessed it; the fruit drink had a higher concentration of sugar than the fresh fruits. The youth also explored the benefits of eating a healthy diet.
In the closing project, each of the participants made butter from scratch and got to eat their production on pretzels. Yum.
As a result of this workshop, youth were interested in pursuing a career in science because they thought it was cool, interesting and you can solve problems. Many of the kids never thought about how agriculture and science were connected and had never heard of jobs that involve agriculture and science too.