Kenneth Gautreaux, Muse, Kyla
News Release Distributed 10/08/15
NEW ORLEANS, La.—Kabrel Johnson, a student at KIPP Central City Academy and a 4-H club member, was busy putting Newton’s Laws of Motion to the test.
“I’m going to see what happens when this car goes down this hill and hits that box,” Johnson said.
Johnson was one of many 4-H’ers across the country participating in a science lesson called Motion Commotion. The activity was the highlight of National 4-H Youth Science Day and helped illustrate concepts such as momentum and kinetic energy.
Volunteers from Lockheed Martin, an area aerospace engineering and technology company, helped the students. Lockheed Martin is a national sponsor for the 4-H science activity and had volunteers at other sites across the country including Denver and Sunnyvale, California.
Melanie Jennings, a senior staff environmental, safety and health engineer for Lockheed Martin, said the event fit well with their company’s mission.
“Lockheed Martin has designated October as a National Month of Giving and participating in this event is part of that effort. We are concentrating on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) lessons along with working with military families,” Jennings said.
Orleans Parish 4-H agent Kyla Muse was responsible for presenting the lesson to the club members.
“We meet twice a month, and we were able to arrange our meeting around the national science day. The lesson focuses on speed and distance and how distractions can change reaction times. This lesson will highlight how a distraction such as texting while driving can be extremely dangerous,” Muse said.
The lesson was designed by the Oregon State Extension Service and consisted of a toy car, clay material that the students molded into imaginary passengers, a track for the car to travel on and an incline built by the students to help create speed for the car.
Students “crashed” the car into both solid objects such as a book and softer items such as tissue paper. The students observed the differences in how the car and its passengers reacted when striking various objects.
Tyrone Walter, a 4-H member, noted a distinct difference. “When the car hit the harder surface, they always fell out. That didn’t happen as much when they hit the soft stuff,” he said.
A second lesson tested the students’ reaction times. One student held a ruler in front of another student. The second student would try to catch the ruler after it was dropped. This tested their reaction time.
The lesson was repeated, but students pretended they were on cell phones talking and were distracted. The act of catching the ruler was increasingly difficult, according to Walter.
“You have to stay focused. When you are distracted, things happen quickly,” Walter said.
Johnson echoed this statement, saying his reaction time “was kinda slower.”
4-H’er Nakaya Muse enjoyed the lesson and participating in 4-H activities.
“I like learning through new experiences such as the experiments they we did today,” she said. “I also like making new friends through the club.”
Alex Jarrell, principal at the school, said 4-H is invaluable at helping teach students skills, such as learning how to work together, and getting students actively engaged. He also sees a wide diversity of students participating in 4-H at the school.
“We have marching band members, football players, honors students and those who are not honor students in this club. They all seemed to have banded together,” Jarrell said.
4-H is the nation’s largest youth organization and is administered in Louisiana by the LSU AgCenter. For more information regarding 4-H, go to www.lsuagcenter.com/4h.Craig Gautreaux