Barton hosts area 4H clubs for “Space Day”

child learning stem activities

April 1, 2021
Story by Joe Vinduska
Courtesy Photos submitted

On March 20, Barton’s STEM Club welcomed 4H’ers from around the region to participate in “Space Day” to help inspire kids’ imaginations and explorative spirit with STEM-inspired activities that increased the attendees’ knowledge and allowed their creativity to soar. 

Barton Biology and Environmental Science Instructor Charlotte Cates worked with 4H Youth Development Agent Michelle Beran of the K-State Research and Extension: Cottonwood District to help organize the event. Cates said she was glad that she could collaborate with the 4H organizations and that she loves to host youth programs. 

“Space Day was awesome,” she said. “My students and I had an amazing time interacting with the participants and their parents. We really love these opportunities to show people that STEM activities can be fun and that creativity is such a huge factor in this arena, even though that is maybe not always the first thing people think about when they think of science or math etc.”

The STEM Club led two activities, including Game Changers, where students used Scratch, a visual programming language that allows students to create their own interactive stories, games and animations, to create an animated public service announcement (PSA) on an issue they were passionate about. One participant made a PSA about how farmers feed the world, another focused on otters as a keystone species, freshwater lakes and bats were also featured in the PSAs.

The other activity the STEM Club led was Toxic Island, where participants designed a simple machine to deliver medical supplies to an island where a contagious virus had broken out. Neither the participants nor the simple machines could touch the ocean (the carpeted area in lab) or the “island” and teams had three minutes to deliver two boxes of urgently needed medical supplies. 

Dr. Amanda Alliband and Dr. Kristen Hathcock lead Junk Drawer Chemistry, where participants learned to build batteries using common household items. There were other sessions on rocket building, electronic circuit coding and unmanned aircraft systems.

The attendees included the Cottonwood, Midway and Walnut Creek 4H clubs. The event was sponsored by the Cottonwood Extension District, Walnut Creek Extension District and the Dane G. Hansen Foundation.

For more information, please contact Biology and Environmental Science Instructor Charlotte Cates at (620) 792-9331 or

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