Mission: Getting kids interested in science, tech, engineering and math

SMYRNA — Late Monday afternoon, children leaned over lunar rocks and examined them carefully.

Seated on picnic benches, they analyzed soil samples, discussing their origin.

Inside, they worked on building rockets.

About 100 youths flooded the DASEF, or Delaware AeroSpace Education Foundation, Environmental Outpost at Big Oak Park, just south of Smyrna, on Monday for the “4-H Summer Evening of STEM.”

The event aimed to interest students in science, technology, engineering and math and show them the diverse careers available to them.

In the evening, the participants, who were ages 6-18 and from all three counties, planned to launch their homemade rockets.

Kristin Cook, Kent County 4-H agent and 4-H science liasion, said she hoped “to engage youth with exciting science activities that they may not come in contact with in their regular curriculum” and connect them with real issues.

The event was made possible by a $10,000 “Innovation Incubator” grant from HughesNet, an internet satelite provider, and the National 4-H Council.

One of the 4-H mottos is “Learn by Doing” — and that’s just what students did Monday.

As they looked at lunar rocks, children compared them to rocks on Earth and discussed the origin of the moon.

When they sifted through soil samples, they learned about pollutants and how to protect the earth.

DASEF planned the curriculum; the nonprofit’s stated mission is “to inspire and education the people of Delaware Valley in learning about the Earth’s enviornment, Earth and space science, technology, engineering and math.”

“…[W]e have the kids and they have the content knowledge, so it’s a nice partnership, because they have the expertise,” Ms. Cook said.

Stephanie Wright, president and CEO of DASEF, said the organization seeks to “connect everything from dinosaurs to space and back,” and help students learn about the earth and its place in the universe.

Through their educational programs and outreach, Ms. Wright said, organizers are there to “provide exceptional experiences” that will support learning in the classroom and at home.

The foundation is also taking donations for its nearby 40,000-square-foot Innovation and Technology Exploration Center.

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