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WVSU uses NASA equipment to launch STEM interest in youth

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West Virginia State University Extension Service recently launched a new 4-H club that provides students with hands-on learning opportunities using NASA equipment.

The 4-H Aerospace and Robotics Club meets monthly, and its mission is to increase youth interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, which is one of the fastest-growing areas of need in the state's work force.

The club's next scheduled meeting is 5-6:30 p.m. Jan. 17 at WVSU's Aerospace Education Laboratory in Institute.

The lab is an electronically enhanced, computerized classroom that puts cutting-edge technology at students' fingertips. It features real aerospace hardware and software, including an advanced flight simulator, a research wind tunnel, a short-wave radio receiver and hand-held global positioning systems for aviation.

The club's activities focus on robotics and rocketry, using curriculum that has been approved by NASA.

"This club engages students in real-world challenges relative to both aeronautics and space exploration," 4-H Extension Agent Paul Henderson said in a news release. "If you have a child interested in science, space, flying planes, rockets, robots or just building and taking things apart to see how they work, this club is perfect for them."

The club is free to join and open to students in grades K-12. Volunteer opportunities are available for interested adults.