4H Club Clover Clinic

By Marc Strauss

February 19, 2011 Updated Feb 19, 2011 at 10:55 PM CDT

Joe Bergmann is a chemistry teacher at ICC. His class is usually filled with college kids, but on Saturday, Joe's students were a lot younger.

They're learning how to make slime by mixing food coloring and borax during the annual 4-H Club Clover Clinic. Over 250 students from 6 central Illinois counties are here on the ICC campus participating.

Bergmann's hoping their experience with him concocts an interest in science.

"I hope that this gives them a little spark for science and starts getting them excited about it now and maybe we'll see them a little later on in a few years," said Bergmann.

Bill Cook is also teaching the 4-H kids chemistry.

"We're going to make some liquid nitrogen ice cream for the kids. Joe's going to set a few things on fire, which is usually an attention getter," said Cook.

Projects are a bit more tame in other classrooms, like learning to build small engines and work with leather. And there are dozens of other things the kids are exposed to at the clinic.

Organizer Judy Schmidt has been a 4-H Club member since she was a little girl.

"A lot of the projects they might start taking when they're 8 and they continue taking it until they graduate from high school," said Schmidt. "They really develop skills that are very marketable. They can sell some of the products that they make or they might find that its something they want to do for a career."

The 4-H Club was founded in 1901. Back then it was a way for rural kids to socialize and learn about raising crops and animals. 110 years later some of the goals have changed.

"We're in competition with the game systems of the world," said Carmen Alexander, whose teaching some of the kids about leather craft.. "We're trying to get the kids back into leather-craft, using their hands."

It appears that point was hammered home.