4-H Lego Robotics at State Fair

Douglas County 4-H students take the Lego Robotics Challenge.  Photo by Lynn Ketchum.

Douglas County 4-H students take the Lego Robotics Challenge. Photo by Lynn Ketchum.

The fastest, most creative and last-robot-standing will reign victorious at a competition at the Oregon State Fair in August, and for the first time young participants who do not belong to 4-H can be in the winner’s circle.

This year’s Lego Robotics Challenges are open to youth ages nine and up and will be in the 4-H Exhibit Building Aug. 24-26. They are one of nine projects in the Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) program of Oregon State University 4-H Youth Development. This nationwide effort teaches analytical, logical and critical thinking while engaging young people in fun activities. The goal is to cultivate a new crop of astronomers, biologists, physicists, engineers and other scientists.

“Sumo Bot” contestants build robots they hope will last longest in the ring; the “Fastest Bot” moves most quickly down a 20-foot track; and the “Art Bot” winner will create the most artistic project. There also will be a catapult and trebuchet competition, and students in grades 7-9 and 10-12 can bring their own technology project to demonstrate its abilities to a judge.

Registration for the Lego challenges can be made by contacting county OSU Extension offices or by contacting Mona Easley at 541-737-1327 or mona.easley@oregonstate.edu. Registration also can be made the day of the fair at the 4-H information desk in the 4-H Exhibit Building, but there is a limit to the number who may participate. Registration fee is $10. Robots can be created from Legos kits or miscellaneous parts. More information is at: http://oregon.4h.oregonstate.edu/programs/events/state%20fair/2008/computer.pdf.

The OSU 4-H Youth Development program has been a leader in SET and received national recognition for its 4-H Tech Wizards program in Washington County.

“We’ve been working for 10 years to narrow the digital divide for families who are not able to access technology as easily as others,” said Terry Palmer, 4-H Extension educator in Washington County. One of the goals of this after-school mentoring program is to address the large dropout rate of Latino youth through experiential learning focused on science, math and technology.

“Our evaluations have shown a huge impact,” Palmer said. “One is that 97 percent of the participants have graduated from high school, and many are going on to higher education.”

More than 5,000 4-H exhibits, including 33 project areas from county fairs across the state, will be on display at the 4-H Exhibit Building during the State Fair.

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