Science & Engineering

Engineering Challenge

We have a lot of exciting opportunities for youth to get involved with science programs in 4-H! To see what we offer statewide, review our Opportunities in 4-H STEM (PDF 0.3MB). 

Journey to Mars

This summer, we are embarking on a Journey to Mars with five interactive lessons. After completing this mission, youth will not only know what it takes to travel to another planet and live there, but will also have sharpened their problem-solving skills. 

You can use the hashtag #SC4HatHome to share photos of your work for a chance to win a 4-H prize pack!  If you are not on social media, you can enter photos by e-mailing them to Ashley Burns at

Journey to Mars is made possible through support by Google:

4-H and Google are coming together for a first-of-its-kind collaboration to develop skills students will need for the future, like computer science, problem solving, communication and collaboration to kids across the country, establishing a 4-H Computer Science (CS) Career Pathway. As the nation’s largest youth development organization, 4-H has the reach and the infrastructure to mobilize a career pathway for America’s youth and grow true leaders prepared with the skills they need. As such, we envision a future where 4-H has the capacity and resources to deliver high-quality computer science activities to youth from all communities around the country. Google shares this vision and believes that all youth should have the opportunity to be creators—not just consumers—of technology. Through’s generous grant
Growing a CS Pathway for America’s Youth: Accelerator Award, 4-H will bring CS programming to kids across the county equipping the next generation with the foundational skills they need to lead, innovate and problem-solve in every discipline – from business to fashion to agriculture. Information was gathered from the Clemson University Cooperative Extension, South Carolina 4-H, National 4-H Council, and additional works as referenced.

4-H Engineering Challenge

Engineering challenges are fun and engaging ways to allow youth to compete in various STEM disciplines like bridge building, energy, GPS, robotics, rocketry, and more. South Carolina 4-H Engineering Challenge is offered in the spring annually to youth, ages 9-18, across the state. The goals of this 4-H program are to provide a safe learning environment where youth can try, fail, and try again, gain valuable life skills, increase interest, confidence, and knowledge in science, and encourage futures in STEM-related careers. Some challenges require club or classroom work prior to the competition event. Other challenges require youth to create their designs onsite. In addition to challenges, the South Carolina 4-H Engineering Challenge hosts a STEAM Fair to further excite youth about opportunities in STEM careers and education. Since it began in 2012, the competition has grown to over 250 participants annually. Youth that participate report increased confidence and knowledge in science skills. We will continue with this effort to grow and support additional 4-H Engineering Challenges within the STEM field. The 2020 SC 4-H Engineering Challenge will be hosted at Piedmont Technical College - Newberry Campus on Saturday, May 2, 2020! 

  • Due to COVID-19, our 2020 event was cancelled
  • We look forward to offering the SC 4-H Engineering Challenge in the Spring of 2021. 
  • Registration will occur on a first come, first served basis at least 2 months prior to the event if possible.
    • For each child registered, we will ask the following information:
      • First and last name
      • Age division (based on their age as of January 1, 2020)
      • County (where they reside OR where they participate in 4-H, either is fine)
      • Demographics (race, ethnicity, gender)
      • T-shirt size
      • Contact information (email or phone number) 
    • Large groups may register by completing the spreadsheet (XLM 0.1MB) and emailing it to Ashley Burns (; an invoice will be sent and groups can pay online or with a check. 
  • Open to youth ages 5*-18 years of age (age calculated as of January 1, 2020)
  • Six different challenges are available to choose from!!!  (Click on each Challenge to learn more.) 

Information on sponsoring or donating to our Engineering Challenge - Sponsor Levels (PDF 0.1MB). Register online or contact Ashley Burns at or 404-580-7984 to discuss sponsorship needs and options. 

For individuals, companies, or groups that would be interested in #InspiringKidstoDo through a hands-on or interactive exhibit at our STEAM Fair, you may also register online. You will be provided with a 6-foot table for display, along with lunch and t-shirt for up to 2 people.  There is a $50 fee to help us offset event and rental expenses. Nonprofit organizations are exempt from this fee, as well as any group that is not able to afford this expense.  Use the promotion code: NONPROFIT to register free of charge.  Contact Jennifer Stevens ( for more information. 

*Most challenges, with the exception of the Photography Challenge, are only open to youth ages 9-18 years of age. Photography is open to youth 5-18 years of age. Read individual challenge documents above for eligibility requirements. 


National Youth Science Day (NYSD)

Discover computer science through hands-on fun! Learn how to engage youth with this year's National Youth Science Day (NYSD) kit - Game Changers. Plan your own NYSD event and lead three different activities outlined in the NYSD kit (2 unplugged and 1 computer-based activity).

National Youth Science Day (NYSD) provides access and opportunity for kids to learn about STEM topics (science, technology, engineering, and math) by participating in a hands-on STEM challenge. For the past 11 years, 4‑H has developed hands-on challenges that show kids how STEM skills can be applied to the world around them. NYSD is celebrated nationally on October 1st, with events taking place throughout the month of October and beyond in classrooms, clubs, homes and afterschool spaces across the country. Kits are available for purchase online (see below). 

NYSD - Game Changers Resources:

Do you love science and want to be a part of the world's largest youth-led science experiment?!  Participate in 4-H National Youth Science Day (NYSD)!  Experiment guides and tutorials for past experiments can be found on National 4-H Council's website

    • Game Changers - 2019 - discover computer science through hands-on fun! (2 of 3 activities do NOT require a computer!)
    • Code Your World - 2018 - introduction to computer science and coding concepts (3 of 4 activities do NOT require a computer!)
    • Incredible Wearables - 2017 - a fun way for kids to build wearable fitness trackers. 
    • Drone Discovery - 2016 - explores the science behind drones and how they are being used to solve real-world problems
    • Motion Commotion - 2015 - learn about physics, speed, and safety
    • Rockets to the Rescue - 2014 - explore the field of aerospace engineering
    • Maps and Apps - 2013 - solve community problems and contribute data using GIS mapping
    • EcoBot Challenge - 2012 - think like a robotics engineer to clean up the environment
    • Wired for Wind - 2011 - explore how to engineer renewable energy technologies
    • 4-H2O - 2010 - demonstrate how carbon dioxide builds up in the atmosphere
    • Biofuel Blast - 2009 - understand the production of biofuel ethanol
    • Helpful Hydrogels - 2008 - explore water conservation with a superabsorbent hydrogel

Clemson University submitted a proposal for NYSD 2016 on the topic of Drones.  Although the proposal was not selected for the national challenge, we wanted to share it with you as an optional activity you could use with youth and can generate excitement about this year's NYSD Challenge!  Look for the official announcement about 2016 NYSD coming this summer. 

Hone your Drone - Clemson University's 2016 NYSD Proposal

  • Instructional Resources
  • Materials to make your own 'kit' (less than $20)
    • 10 feet of 1/2-inch PVC (cut to the following lengths) 
      • 4 pieces at 14 in. long
      • 2 pieces at 13.5 in. long
      • 4 pieces at 6.5 in. long
    • Four 1/2-inch PVC 90-degree elbows
    • Two 1/2-inch PVC slip couplings
    • 4 small eye-hook screws
    • Package of flexible straws
    • Kite string
    • printed Hone your Drone map
    • petri dish (or other small, shallow dish)
    • small amount of liquid laundry detergent
    • salt or sugar (or other granular substance)
  • Recommended accessories
    • Scissors
    • Index cards
    • Paper clips
    • Binder clips
    • Permanent marker
    • Tape 
    • Yardstick 

South Carolina 4-H Science Program Leader:

T. Ashley Burns, Ph.D.
Assistant Director, 4-H Youth Development
Clemson University Cooperative Extension
2057 Barre Hall
Clemson, SC 29634