Budding scientists gathered at the Thurston County Fairgrounds Saturday to learn about drones, 4-H and National Science Day.
In the Sokolik Building, Steven Yabsley hands them roto-copters — devices made of propellers mounted on the ends of sticks — and explains how they work. He places a roto-copter between two hands, and quickly moves one hand forward and one hand back. The roto-copter takes flight.
Soon, the air is filled with dozens of roto-copters, bouncing off the ceilings, walls and light fixtures. The exercise helps the children understand the principles of flight, he explained.
“By using lift and thrust, they can get a little roto-copter where they want it to go,” Yabsley said.
Thousands of children across the United States learned the same lesson on Saturday, Yabsley said. This year’s National Science Day theme is “drone discovery,” and children learned the principles of flight, what drones are and how they can be used. The event also was intended to teach potential members about the Thurston County 4-H STEM Club — a local club that teaches children about science, technology, engineering and math.
The club is just beginning its fourth year. The club, which meets monthly in Yelm, has been popular, with membership doubling every year.
The first year, eight children participated — and three were Yabsley’s kids. But last year, the club had more than 30 members. Yabsley said he expects the club to grow a little more this year.
The club’s projects have also changed over time, he said. The first year, many of the kids showed LEGO creations. Two years later, many had moved on to rockets, trebuchets and robots. And this year, the club will enter a robotics competition for the first time.
Ethan Yabsley, Steven Yabsley’s 13-year-old son, will also teach coding to the club this year. The Yelm Middle School eighth-grader is mostly self-taught. He learned his coding skills online. He hopes to become a video game designer.
STEM Club is currently accepting new members, said Steven Yabsley. Anyone intersted in learning more can visit the club’s Facebook page at facebook.com/tc4hstem or email Steven Yabsley at firstname.lastname@example.org.