Students celebrate National Ag Day with 4-H Water Windmill Challenge

At the Ohio kick-off event for National Ag Day, nearly 50 local students from Circleville City Schools got the chance to solve a real-world agriculture challenge on the Ohio State University campus.

This year’s 4-H Ag Innovators Experience was the interactive “Water Windmill Challenge.” The students were tasked with designing an efficient solution to the challenge of water use on a crop and dairy farm. They engineered a small-scale water windmill prototype using everyday materials to help generate wind-powered electricity to deliver clean, safe water to crops and farm animals. This windmill had to be built to support a bucket holding 24 pounds of water with the most efficient design possible. The teams of students got extra points for a lighter weight design.

Youth took part in an interactive "Water Windmill Challenge" as part of the 4-H Ag Innovators Experience.

Youth took part in an interactive “Water Windmill Challenge” as part of the 4-H Ag Innovators Experience.

“This helps create an awareness around ag topics and issues. This year’s issue is water availability in the

Midwest. The one key goal is to develop the engineering skills the students are learning. They are challenged to use engineering to solve a problem of pumping water on a farm. They will come away from this with a better understanding of the need for water, how farmers manage it and more knowledge and awareness of agriculture and farm production,” said Bob Horton, professor, Educational Design and Science Education with Ohio State University Extension who designed the project. “We wanted to come up with something water related. I created this challenge and it was picked up for all the states and we are the lead state on this. It is an intuitive thing for these students. They have the ability at their age to play with a skill set they already have. We want them to use engineering and problem solving to put those skills to use in solving a real world problem.”

Circleville 7th graders Bethany Tolbert and Crystal Miner get ready to test their windmill

Circleville 7th graders Bethany Tolbert and Crystal Miner get ready to test their windmill

The project is a collaboration between the National 4-H Council and Monsanto that sponsored it. The activity will be recreated at 4-H camps throughout the summer to reach 2,000 Ohio 4-Hers and 12,000 youth in eight states.

Along with the activity, the students got to learn about the importance of agriculture in the United States. Agriculture:

• Was $775.8 billion of the U.S. economy in 2012 (most recent data),

which was 4.8% of the nation’s GDP;

  • • Provides 9.2% of U.S. employment — 16.9 million jobs;
  • • Generated $141.3 billion of exported goods in 2012, the largest number to-date;
  • Provides the most affordable food supply of any developed country in the world.
OSU, CFAES, 4-H, AG Innovators Experience

Local 4-Hers led a National Ag Day celebration to learn about the ag industry while solving a real-world agriculture challenge. Photo credit Ken Chamberlain OSU photos

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