The weather was cool and the day filled with excitement. On April 21st 4-H students from Pleasant Hill Academy participated in their first Global Youth Service Day. The project was designed to benefit the local community garden used by the College Hill Gardeners and the school. The audacious project involved over 200 students which culminated in the building of an octagon shaped garden bed and the planting of a bean tepee.

The preschool, kindergarten and first-grade students helped weed the water the garden space in preparation for the spring. The second and third-grade students helped plant seeds and plants in the raised garden beds. Then the fourth, fifth and sixth graders helped cut, design and build an octagon shaped bed to stand as a centerpiece of the garden.

The students at Pleasant Hill Academy, a Cincinnati Public School, are part of an environmental science program which lends itself well to the 4-H projects. Throughout the year, as a part of their typical curriculum, students learn about the natural world.

The project was sponsored by Serve Ohio as part of their initiative to engage more youth in Global Youth Service Day.

It was a pleasure to work with the students as they learned how to (under supervision) use a saw to cut wood and calculate the angles for the octagon bed.

In cooperation with the school, students also planted 7 commemorative trees on the property and engaged in a series of earth related activities designed to provide the students with a stronger connection to the natural world. Students were also given trees to take home and plant on their own.

4-H Agri-Science in the City is looking forward to working on more projects like this with the youth.

Serve Ohio (Ohio Commission on Service and Volunteerism)

Serve Ohio (Ohio Commission on Service and Volunteerism)

Test your Knowledge

4-H Agri-Science in the City Youth are often asked to provide feedback about what they have learned and if what they have learned has helped them develop a stronger understanding of age appropriate scientific concepts.

In an effort to streamline that process and connect environmental science to the mediums that are familiar to your youth, 4-H and environmental educators are working together to build a treasure trunk of resources to support youth.

Here is one of the first engagement tools. The online quiz is set up like a trivia game that youth can play independently or teachers can use in a classroom setting.  Check it out, give it a try and provide feedback below.


Special Thanks to our contributors:

Mary Dudley of the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati

Rebecca Supinger of OSU Extension, Greene County and

The Teachers at Pleaseant Hill Academy.

Laughter Erupted

By: Tony Staubach, Program Manager, 4-H Youth Development

Laughter and joy erupted at Pleasant Hill Academy in College Hill on Wednesday as the 6th grade launched rockets and the 4th grade experimented with a banana piano.

Since September youth in 4th, 5th and 6th grade at Pleasant Hill have participated in 4-H Agri-Science in the City as an integrated part of their school day.

For several weeks, the 6th grade students have been working with 4-H Agri-Science in the City Program Manager, Tony Staubach to learn about force and motion in anticipation for their rocket launch.  The students were tasked with designing, building and evaluating the success of their rockets, which were constructed out of used 2-liter bottles, duct-tape and cardboard.

The 4-H excitement continued throughout the day as the 4th grade students began learning about electric circuits by creating a banana piano. The students were initially puzzled by the engagement exercise but became fast experts on electrical conductivity as well as the role insulators in an electric circuit.

Although 4-H Agri-Science in the City is new addition to Pleasant Hill Academy, the teachers and students have taken to the program like fish take to water. Pleasant Hill was designated the first Environmental Science School as part of the Cincinnati Public Schools Vision 2020 initiative.

Although the rocket launch is over, there is still a lot of excitement around the corner.  In April students at Pleasant Hill Academy, in addition to Rothenberg Preparatory Academy and Silverton Paideia, will hatch chicken eggs as part of the annual Chick Quest program. Hatched chicks will stay at the school for one week before finding homes with local growers.

Since 1902 youth in communities both urban and rural have joined the 4-H positive youth development program to engage in project based learning and leadership development. 4-H Agri-Science in the City was created in 2014 by Ohio State University Extension, thanks to the support of State Representative Jim Buchy, to help expanded access to food, agriculture and environmental science education to youth in urban communities.





Famous Scientists and Innovators in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math for Black History Month

Are you looking for information about famous scientists and innovators in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math for Black History Month?  Students from our 4-H Agri-Science in the City clubs learn annually about the impacts made during Black History Month.

Check out just a few of our highlighted leaders.

For the entire presentation click here.

Patricia Bath (November 4, 1942)
Among many firsts, Patricia Bath is the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology and the first African-American
female doctor to receive a medical patent. She invented the Laserphaco Probe for cataract treatment in 1986.

Prof. Samuel Massie Jr. (July 3, 1919 – April 10, 2005)
An organic chemist who was the first African American to teach at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Marie M. Daly (April 16, 1921- October 28, 2003)
Marie M. Daly is best known for being the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry in the United States.

Philip Emeagwali (born August 23, 1954)
Nigerian-born scientist and inventor known for first using a Connection Machine supercomputer to help analyze petroleum fields.

Benjamin Banneker (November 9, 1731 – October 9, 1806)
African American astronomer, mathematician and author who constructed America’s first functional clock.

Regina Benjamin (October 26, 1956)
Physician Regina Benjamin worked as the 18th U.S. surgeon general, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009.

Percy Lavon Julian (April 11, 1899 – April 19, 1975)
African American researcher known for being a pioneer in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants.

Madam C J Walker (December 23, 1867- May 25, 1919)
Madam C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, created specialized hair products for African-American hair and was one of the first American
women to become a self-made millionaire.

Norbert Rillieux (March 17, 1806 – October 8, 1894)
American inventor and engineer, best remembered for his invention of the multiple-effect evaporator.

Charles Drew (June 3, 1904 – April 1, 1950)
American physician, surgeon and medical researcher known as the inventor of the blood bank.

Mae C. Jemison (October 17, 1956)
Mae C. Jemison is the first African-American female astronaut. In 1992, she flew into space aboard the Endeavour, becoming the first
African-American woman in space.

James West (born February 10, 1931)
African-American inventor who developed the “mic” in the 1960s; holds 47 U.S. and more than 200 foreign patents on microphones and techniques for making polymer foil-electrets.

Mary Mahoney (May 7, 1845- January 4, 1926)
Mary Mahoney became the first black woman to complete nurse’s training in 1879.

George Washington Carver (January 1864 – January 5, 1943)
American scientist and inventor and an extraordinary explorer and innovator of agricultural science.

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams (January 18, 1858 – August 4, 1931)
African American physician who performed the first prototype open-heart surgery.

Mary Styles Harris (June 26, 1949)
Distinguished American health researcher Mary Styles Harris has gained national attention for her work and influence on
national health policies.

Garrett Morgan (March 4, 1877 – August 27, 1963)
African American inventor who made both the first traffic signal invention and the first patented gas mask.

Alexa Canady (November 7, 1950)
In 1981, Alexa Canady became the first female African-American neurosurgeon in the United States.

Ernest Everett Just (August 14, 1883 – October 27, 1941)
African American biologist and author known for his work on egg fertilization and the structure of the cell.

Emmett Chappelle (born October 25, 1925)
African American scientist and researcher and a recipient of 14 U.S. patents, who discovered that a particular combination of chemicals
caused all living organisms to emit light.

Nia Wordlaw
“My mom came home one day with an article from 1922 about Bessie Coleman. [That] was my first mentor: an article about [the first]
black female pilot,” says Wordlaw, a pilot for United Airlines—one of very few female African- Americans to fly for a major carrier. “It
makes a difference to see someone who looks like you doing something that you want to do.“

For the entire presentation click here.

4-H’s Trip to The Jewish Boys’ Day Camp

Many times day camps will request 4-H to come out and do an activity for the afternoon. On July 28, 2015, 4-H Agriscience in the City sent its two student workers to the Cincinnati Hebrew Day School to teach Rockets Away to a Jewish Camp’s boy division. With about 50 boys, there was plenty of excitement in the air when 4-H arrived right after the boys’ lunch break. The boys broke into three groups and each one was supposed have 40 minutes to build rockets. The lesson began in the gym with some general information about rockets and what the difference is between the rockets the boys were building and real rockets. Where the program got a little out of hand was when each boy tried to build a rocket. It is not easy to build one of these rockets, so to try and give directions was somewhat challenging. Eventually, many rockets lost their wings before even being launched. Once launching commenced, the boys’ screams of excitement made all the work getting the rockets built worth it. The first group took so long that only one other group got to build and launch rockets. In the second group, pairs of campers built a rocket which made building rockets and launching them a much more manageable. The boys really enjoyed the program, so much so that the director of the boys division said he would reach out again to 4-H to try and get them to come back to the camp this summer.

STEM in Laboiteaux Woods

The week of July 27th, 4-H Agriscience in the City taught at a STEM camp in Laboiteaux Woods as part of a partnership with the Cincinnati Parks. The camp itself is run by the Cincinnati Parks and has two great instructors, Ginger and Jason. Each day starts out with an introduction to a certain STEM idea or project. For instance, one morning the campers built and continued to improve upon their own catapults designed to launch small Styrofoam balls. 4-H would come in after the morning introduction, offering new lessons and ideas to enlighten the campers to different applications of STEM.

Each day 4-H would offer a new lesson and activity, some classics coming from 4-H activity books, other original lessons developed by Hamilton County’s 4-H director, Tanya Horvath. The way the day would go, is that the campers would split into two self-selected groups (which at this age meant there was a boys and a girls group). Before lunch, one group would go on a hike and the other group would stay at the shelter with 4-H. After lunch the two groups flip-flopped.

4-H taught at the camp 4 out of the 5 days. The first day was an especially exciting activity. The subject was oil spills and the activity was a simulated oil spill clean up. Rice played the part as oil and at first all the campers had to clean up the oil was a hexbug and a cup. They were not allowed to use their hands at all. The challenge had a story component to it, with an update every five minutes. An update included additional supplies and an report of the damage and death count from the oil spill. The campers struggled to clean up the oil and began to understand how machines can be helpful and detrimental and how bureaucracy can be inefficient in dealing with emergencies.

The next day was another activity discovered and developed by Tanya called Beak mobiles. Using simple supplies like plates, rubberbands, popsicle sticks, a toilet paper roll and a skewer the campers had to design and build a car that can create its own energy to move. The lesson focused on the energy change from potential to kinetic. The students got 5 minutes to think independently before seeing the model mobile. Afterwards, they could use the model to build their mobile or still design their own. After every group had built a mobile, they tested their mobiles against each other in categories like speed, distance, control and ability to move in a straight line.

4-H did not do an activity on the third day, but returned on the fourth day to make lava lamps with the campers. This simple activity does not come from a 4-H book, but does come from OSU Extension. It is an easy way to explain the basics of chemistry. The campers poured water with food coloring into a clear film container and then oil on top. Then they added an Alka-Seltzer tablet, which dissolved in the water creating bubbles. The bubbles traveled from the water into the oil where they struggled to move up and created groovy shapes and designs just like a lava lamp.

The final day, the kids did one of the most basic 4-H programs, Rockets Away. In this activity, the campers built rockets out of 2-liter bottles and cardboard and got to launch them. There is more to this than just building the rocket, the campers aimed for the highest rocket and most efficient. Then they used math to estimate their rockets height and trajectory.

4-H Agriscience in the City had a great time at the Laboiteaux Woods camp and if just one camper walked away knowing a little bit more about science, technology, engineering or math, then their involvement will have been a success.

Student Reflection: July’s 4H Agri-Science in the City 4H2O Camp

July 29, 2015.

The week of July 20-24, Tony Staubach and his two student workers, Max and Sammie, launched the first ever 4H Agri-Science in the City summer day camp in Over-the-Rhine. The camp was originally offered to students of Rothenberg Preparatory Academy, and was to be provided without any cost to the students or their families. Ten students between the ages of seven and eleven were signed up for the camp. With many scientific water-related activities planned long in advance for 25 hours of excitement and exploration, the 2015 4H2O camp was officially ready to go!

On Monday morning, the camp crew arrived early and awaited the students’ arrival in the Eco Garden, across the street from Rothenberg. They were anxious, as they did not know what to anticipate from the students or how many students would show up that day. Three students arrived around half-past nine, so the day began with nametag making and getting to know the students. Monday’s theme was “Properties of Water” and the campers enjoyed several activities that taught them about surface tension, capillary action, and density. Following lunch, the campers explored hidden treasures of the city, with Nature BINGO, where the goal was to see as many pieces of nature as possible; examples included an apple tree, a squirrel eating a nut, and ivy crawling up a building. Though at times the campers expressed exhaustion from the hot sun and frustration with the lack of ease in finding nature, at the end of the day, the Nature BINGO was their favorite part.

The water-filled week of science adventures continued with Tuesday’s theme of “The Water Cycle.” The campers investigated evaporation, condensation, and precipitation as well as what a watershed is and the negative impacts of erosion. They were provided with the opportunity to build their own watershed and learn all about the connection of water bodies within it. In the afternoon, the group trekked across Cincinnati all the way to the new Smale Park by the Ohio River. The campers ran, climbed, and played around the park until it was time to venture back to the Eco Garden for dismissal.

The next day was “The Importance of Water Quality,” and to the surprise of Tony, Sammie, and Max, three new students showed up. They weren’t Rothenberg students—nor were they even in elementary school—but they were ready to discover the interesting agri-science concepts the 4H camp had to offer. Activities on this day involved discussion of pH and working together to test the pH of many household substances to investigate the differences between acids and bases. The students expressed enjoyment in using both phenol red drops and pH indicator strips to compare substances. They even got to travel to Washington Park and test the pH of the fountain water. That afternoon, the campers visited the rooftop garden of Rothenberg Academy and set up desalination kits and cleaned dirty water through handmade water filters.

Day four was all about appreciating the community. The students had the opportunity to discuss community service and to provide a service through creating birdfeeders to hang in the garden, and the afternoon included a walking tour of the Pendleton, Over-the-Rhine, and Race Street community gardens. It was clear that the campers most enjoyed picking numerous apples from the Race Street garden’s apple tree.

On the fifth and final day, the theme was “Wacky Water Fun.” The campers created artwork, built a fountain, and investigated with a leak-proof bag experiment. That afternoon, the 4H campers ventured to Washington Park to take part in the Cincinnati Parks Nature Next Door camp, with a craft, game, and guest speaker all about birds. Following that program, the campers rested for a quick lunch in the park and then spent much of the afternoon cooling off in the park’s fountains.

Over the course of the week of the first 4H Agri-Science in the City summer day camp, days were precisely planned yet unpredictable and exhausting yet full of worthwhile exploration and excitement. Tony and his workers are looking forward to next week, August 3-7, where they will host the camp one last time for the summer.

5th Quarter at Rothenberg Preparatory Academy

Teaching Away The Summer; 4-H Agriscience in the City’s 5th Quarter at Rothenberg
Most kids finish school in May and rejoice at the prospect of no school for 3 months. Some students, however, attend a 5th quarter of school in the month of June either because they had a lack-luster performance during the year or they just need a safe place to be for the summer. These students have all the classes they would have during school, but in classes with other kids from their grade that need extra help.
The day begins at 7:15 with breakfast, and then the morning consisted of math and language arts, testing both reading and computational skills. Then came lunch that led to the afternoon Imani program. That is where OSU extension 4-H Agriscience in the City comes into play. The afternoon consisted of 5 40 minute periods where students would go through different classes. There was gym, music, art, world languages, culture club, gardening and, of course, science. At 3:40, the students came back together for dinner and then went home.
4-H Agriscience in the City or just 4-H aims at developing career oriented skills in students in poverty stricken urban areas. Its founder and main developer, Tony Staubach, works at Rothenberg during the year teaching science as part of an external partner with the school. For this summer program he is joined by two summer student assistants, Sammie Chamberland and Max Hartley.
The Imani program’s theme was the world and each age group was a different continent. 4-H’s theme for their science program was water, especially water conservation. They tailored each lesson to the continent that the students were assigned to. Each lesson began with an introductory video to a certain water subject, such as the struggle for clean water, water wildlife or water conservation. From there, the main teacher, which started out with Tony then slowly phased to the summer assistants, would probe the class with questions. Whether or not they remembered everything from the video, as long they walked away knowing just a little bit more about water, then the videos had been a success.
For the last 25-30 minutes of the period, 4-H’s goal was to keep the students interested, and what better way to do that in science than with cool experiments and activities. Some of these included something as simple as mixing Kool-Aid and discussing how dissolving works, to making lava lamps out of water, oil and an Alka-Seltzer tablet. That’s not all the students accomplished with 4-H. Another goal of this month was to have artifacts to showcase afterwards. In science, the students made multiple artifacts, which included a fishy landscape, water baskets made out of weaved magazine clippings, desalination kits and water filters. The fishy landscape was created by taking the student’s drawings of fish and underwater plant life and pasting it on a blue backdrop. The other crafts had real results, the water filter actually made dirty water clearer and the desalination kits, when put into sunlight could change salt water into a little bit of fresh water. These activities captured students’ attention and hopefully sparked an interest in learning more about water, science and 4-H.
While going to school for an extra month may sound boring and unfortunate, and for some kids it was even mandatory, the 5th quarter program at Rothenberg gave many students a brighter future. Learning about everything from science to language arts and everything in between can only help these students in the long run.