Oregon kids to 'crash' cars in national 4-H physics experiment Oct. 7

September 24, 2015
Carsen Koch of Silverton participates in a physics experiment that will be duplicated around the country. Photo by Mary Stewart.
Carsen Koch of Silverton participates in a physics experiment that will be duplicated around the country. Photo by Mary Stewart.

BEAVERTON, Ore. – Toy cars will collide and clay people will fly as several hundred students in Oregon join their peers around the country in the nation's largest, youth-led science experiment on Oct. 7.

The Oregon State University Extension Service's 4-H youth development program and Beaverton-based software company Vernier developed the Motion Commotion physics experiment for 4-H National Youth Science Day. The annual event aims to get kids excited about science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

About 100 students from the Portland area are expected to participate at Beaverton's Highland Park Middle School from 4-6 p.m., said Pamela Rose, the head of the state's 4-H program. The event is open to the public.

In addition to Beaverton, students will conduct identical experiments in Bend, The Dalles, Dufur, Maupin, Redmond, Gold Beach, Warm Springs, Hood River, Astoria, Oregon City and on Sauvie Island on various dates in October. For information about these events, contact local Extension offices.

“The 4-H National Youth Science Day really exemplifies the best of 4-H youth development,” Rose said. “It’s an educational event that engages young people in hands-on learning, encourages them to explore and discover, allows the opportunity to set and modify goals and teaches real-life skill building and teamwork.”

To demonstrate Sir Isaac Newton's three laws of motion, students will push small, plastic cars into obstacles and analyze the speed, momentum and kinetic energy. After that, the kids will learn about the consequences of distracted driving. They will be asked to perform a task while completely focused and then again while texting or talking on a cell phone.

Science programs are just one aspect of the 4-H program, which reached more than 94,000 youths in Oregon via a network of 10,410 volunteers in the 2013-14 school year, Rose said. Activities focus on areas like healthy living, civic engagement and animal care. Clubs teach students everything from how to shoot photos to how to make robots out of Legos.

Author: Kym Pokorny
Source: Pamela Rose