MURPHYSBORO, Ill. – Michelle Wang will be part of STEM history through the 4-H in Space Mission Control Team (MCT), an elite planning unit comprised of 33 youth throughout the state.

This program is designed to go outside of the typical bounds of current STEM programming as it introduces youth to a variety of disciplines such as text-based coding (Computer Science), Aerospace, Mechanical Engineering & Design, Astronomy & Physics and Telecommunications.

Through the year-long program, members will work with the Illinois STEM Team and University of Illinois Aerospace Engineering Small Satellite Team to help develop and test an Arduino based satellite called a CubeSat (CS). Each satellite will be capable of staying in orbit for several months before decaying in reentry. Youth will program specific missions for their CubeSat to perform while in orbit. The project will culminate in a live-streaming launch event in which 10 individuals will represent the team and facilitate the live event from the launch site.

Through 4-H STEM programs, youth become critical thinkers, creative problem-solvers and intelligent decision-makers. For Wang, her interest in STEM started at an early age.

“As a third grader, I was the youngest presenter at the 2014 SIT (Students Involved with Technology) Conference. For a total of five consecutive years, I presented several Arduino projects at SIT conferences. The projects evolved from simple projects like controlling LEDs to increasingly complicated robot projects that use Arduino to control a robot’s movement (moving speed, travel distance, turning angles), detect obstacles and receive voice commands. Through these projects, I became proficient with Arduino programming and learned how to assemble electronic and mechanical parts.” 

As the daughter of two longtime 4-H volunteers, Wang is a self-proclaimed “4-H kid at heart.”  Her mother leads the Jackson County 4-H Computing Club, where Wang has been a member since fifth grade. Wang is now a junior leader for the club and assists in teaching Python programming to the 25 club members ranging from fourth grade students to high school freshmen.

“I helped the instructor prepare materials and test projects. During meetings, I helped club members debug their programs and answered questions. I have always enjoyed club meetings where all 4-H kids work together.”

To learn more about STEM opportunities available through 4-H, visit: https://4h.extension.illinois.edu/programs/stem-robotics

News Source: Becky Needham, 618-687-1727, bneedham@illinois.edu

News Writer: Heather Willis, 618-357-2126, hdwillis@illinois.edu