On October 7, 2009, millions of youth across the nation will participate in 4-H National Youth Science Day, an event designed to engage young people in the environmental issues facing the nation. This year, youth will complete the "Biofuel Blast" science experiment to learn how renewable products, such as harvested plant materials, can make energy.

Youth and adult leaders can sign up to participate online at www.4-H.org/NYSD.

4-H encourages the youth of today to become our nation's future leaders. As such, it's vital for youth to understand and engage in today's important environmental issues to ensure a greener tomorrow. National 4-H Headquarters is housed within USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service.

For the second annual 4-H National Youth Science Day, the University of Wisconsin designed "Biofuel Blast." The experiment offers several activities to showcase how cellulose and sugars in plants can be used to create ethanol. In one activity, youth will combine corn syrup and yeast in a plastic container and cover the bottle's mouth with a balloon. They will watch as the yeast breaks down the natural sugars in the corn, which will release ethanol gas that will inflate the balloon.

In addition to testing corn syrup, youth will test and discuss other alternative fuel options including switchgrass, sawdust, sorghum and even algae. These fuel alternatives -- researched by the land-grant colleges and universities across the nation that oversee 4-H youth development programs in every state -- differ by region throughout the United States, providing an opportunity for youth to learn about their home region as well as others.

The National Science Experiment will encourage a national youth debate to discuss the "best" biofuel based on experiment outcomes. Young people will be able to see how their small creations are part of a major current nationwide discussion. Youth will also be engaged before, during and after the experiment via several popular communication mechanisms including cell phone text messages, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and through the 4-H.org Web site.

4-H's Science, Engineering and Technology initiative reaches more than 5 million youth with hands-on learning experiences to encourage young minds and to fill the pipeline of young leaders proficient in science. Today, 4-H out-of-school opportunities focus on agricultural science, electricity, mechanics, natural sciences, rocketry, robotics, biofuels, renewable energy and computer science.

National 4-H Headquarters seeks to promote positive youth development, facilitate learning and engage youth in the work of the land-grant universities and USDA to enhance their quality of life. Nearly 7 million youth, ages 5-19, participate in 4-H youth development experiences in all 50 states, territories and military installations worldwide. More information is available at www.national4-hheadquarters.gov. Information on the SET initiative can be found at www.4-h.org/4Hset.html.