ITHACA, N.Y. — This week, the 4-H Youth Development program brought together teens from across New York State to explore STEM on Cornell’s campus.

The program’s Mechanical and Space Engineering Group took to Libe Slope Wednesday morning to launch self-made rockets, all engineered by teens with the assistance of adult counselors.

“We split them into groups of two, and each group built their own rocket,” said one counselor. “We provided them with a kit and instructions, but most of it was all them — they did all the work.”

Awed passersby gathered on the slope to watch the projectiles reach hundreds of feet in the air. Other spectators ran for cover from stray airborne materials, eliciting chuckles from the teen-engineers behind the spectacle.

The rocket launch was only one of more than half-a-dozen local 4-H events being held this week for aspiring engineers.

Next, the 4-H summer program’s youth participants will be introduced to fluid and solid dynamics, the disciplines of physics that allow engineers to build sustainable boats and bridges.

The week of events will culminate on Thursday with an experiment that uses foam gliders to teach participants about the emerging science of drone technology.

Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.