4-H Robotics Project

Science-fiction movies have portrayed robots as highly intelligent electro-mechanical devices with human-like capabilities. While work is currently being done to develop such human-like devices that can "think" independently, the majority of today's robots are quite different. The typical robots of today are designed, constructed, and programmed to complete various tasks that would be too dangerous, precise, quick, costly, or repetitive for human beings to perform.

View Real-life Applications of Robotics-click

Because the uses for robots in society are increasing daily, there is a corresponding increase in demand for individuals who know how to design, fabricate, program, operate, and maintain them. The Indiana 4-H program aspires to provide young persons with various "hands on" opportunities to stimulate interest in, and gain knowledge of, the field of robotics. These very 4-H youth may well be the "Robotics Engineers of the future." Currently, several opportunites are available to 4-H youth in Indiana to participate in a robotics-related program.

4-H Robotics Opportunities

Annual 4-H Science Workshops (Robotics Track)
Robots are everywhere! Someday, you may own a car that parallel parks itself; or it may even be so advanced it actually drives itself. Now wouldn’t that be nice! In this workshop, your team, along with the other participating teams, will be given the challenge of designing and building the robot that is the most effective in accomplishing a specific task. Will your team’s robot be the best one? Perhaps the challenge will be to design a robot that can find a flashlight in a dark room or maybe the robot you design will need to clean up the environment by recycling waste products. Whatever the challenge, we need you on our team!

Robotics was first introduced as one of the tracks available to youth participating in the Annual 4-H Science Workshops in 2014.The workshops are held on Purdue's West Lafayette campus each summer the second week of June. This workshop provides an opportunity to learn about robotics, "hands on", as teams of two to three 4-H youth work together over several days to design, construct, and test a robot capable of completing an assigned task. The workshop concludes on the last day with a competition between the teams to see which team's design is the best. To learn more about the workshop and to register contact your county extension office.

In this video, the challenge was to design and build a robot that would be "smart enough" not to drive off of a table.

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National 4-H Robotics Challenge (a part of the National 4-H Engineering Challenge - click)
In 2009, the first National 4-H Robotics Challenge was held at the Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds in Lafayette, Indiana. Since that time, each fall, teams come from many states across the country (some as far away as the East Coast and Florida) to participate in the challenge. The challenge consists of two separate contests: 1) a remote-controlled event, where a human operator manipulates the robot using a wireless remote control, and 2) an autonomous event, where the robot is programmed to complete a task without the aid of human intervention. The tasks for the two events are not revealed to the participants until they arrive on the first day of the contest. Below you can watch a video clip taken from each of the two contests that occured during the 2012 challenge.

REMOTE-CONTROL EVENT - The goal of the remote-control event was to design a robot that could collect billard balls and place them in/on pvc tubing. Each team was assigned to collect either striped balls or solid balls. Putting a ball into one of the large openings on either end scored one point for the team. Setting a ball on the "candlestick" holder earned a team two points (a successfully-placed ball was removed by contest officials to allow for additional balls). During the last minute of the three-minute rounds, retrieving the 8-ball or cue ball from its wooden holder and placing it into any large hole in the pipe would score three points for the team. This event allows the teams to develop certain "strategies" for how they best feel they can win the contest. You will notice in the associated video, one team used a device to pick up multiple balls and deposit them in the tube, while the other team used a simple "grabber claw" with the intent of placing most of their balls on the "candlestick" holders.

AUTONOMOUS EVENT - The goal of the autonomous event was to design a robot that could travel across the floor, grasp a 16-foot-retractable tape measure and then extend the tape until it indicated a specific distance. Each team had three attemps to extend the tape to the specifed distance. The amount of deviation from the desired distance was totaled for all three attemps. The team with the least total error won the event.

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Indiana State Robotics Challange
2014 robotics challenge contest at the Indiana State Fair is a one-day event consisting of two separate contests comprised of youth who fall into two different grade brackets. Each group will compete using a robotics platform* suitable for the associtated grade bracket. This event will take place at the Stare Fair Grounds on August 16, 2014. "More Info"

Bracket 1 - youth in grades 3-7 (using the LEGO Mindstorms® Platform)
Bracket 2 - youth in grades 8-12 (using VEX® Robotics Design System)

For more information on the LEGO and VEX robotics platforms, please search their respective websites. http://www.legoeducation.us/eng/categories/products/middle-school/lego-mindstorms-education
http://www.vexrobotics.com/

National 4-H Science Curriculum
In the fall of 2010, National 4-H released a comprehensive robotics curriculum (4-H Robotics: Engineering for Today and Tomorrow - click) which is used in many 4-H clubs across the country. This curriculum introduces robotics to youth ages 9 to 18 with beginner, intermediate and advanced skill levels. Young people involved in this program will develop decision-making and critical thinking skills, and implement an understanding of the scientific and engineering design processes as they build real and virtual robots.

To Learn More about how 4-H youth can get involved in Robotics:

  1. Contact your local county cooperative extension office.
  2. Sign-up to receive information about upcoming state 4-H robotics opportunities.
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