For nearly 10 years, youth in Lauderdale County have enjoyed the challenge of building and programming Lego Robots. The fun started with the Lego RCX units, and has evolved to include the Lego Mindstorm robots and the newest Lego EV3 robots.
Hattin Berryman, a seventh grader at Waterloo School, has been in the club for three years.
“4-H came to my school and I learned about the robotics club. He got a Lego Mindstorm set for Christmas and knew he wanted to join the club to learn more,” he said.
In the Lauderdale County 4-H Robotics Club, which meets once a month, youth work in groups of four to six building a robot to meet a certain task or challenge. Examples include a parallel parking course, an obstacle course, a rattlesnake robot and a drag race car. Once the robot is complete, the team begins to program the robot’s brain to do what they want it to do.
Lego Mindstorm Robots
The Lego Mindstorm robots can be programmed directly on the robot brain, but the Lauderdale 4-H Club members use a laptop and the Mindstorm software to program the functions. This process takes a lot of patience and a lot of trial and error. Berryman said in robotics club he has learned more about the Mindstorm sets and about working in robotic teams.
Community Service Project
Each year, as the club’s community service project, the members volunteer at the Northwest Alabama B.E.S.T. Robotics Competition. They serve in hospitality, providing judges and other volunteers with snacks and drinks throughout the day. This event also gives the 4-H youth an opportunity to see different student-built robots in action. Many of the 4-H members go on to join their school’s robotics team when they reach seventh grade.
“Our Robotics Club is a training ground for our schools’ B.E.S.T. Robotics teams,” said Janet Lovelady, a 4-H Foundation regional Extension agent. I’m proud to see Lauderdale 4-H’ers competing in B.E.S.T.”
Lovelady tries to provide a competition for the 4-H’ers as well. Whether at a County roundup or a regional event in northwest Alabama, the youth have opportunities to show what they’ve learned with their robots. This year, Lockheed Martin sponsored a regional event in Limestone County. Six counties participated in the STEM event. It included a robotics competition, a Junk Drawer Robotics activity, a rocketry learning station and a GIS adventure.
Many robotics club members also are well-rounded 4-H’ers. Berryman participates in Chick Chain and Shooting Sports. When asked if he would recommend 4-H to others, he replied, “Yes, you will learn a lot about yourself, meet new friends and have a lot of fun doing it.
Alabama 4-H’s Give to Grow campaign allows you to support 4-H and help it reach more young people.
With funding from county, federal and state sources declining and tax dollars only going so far, the Alabama 4-H program relies on support from youth, families, Extension specialists, agents, volunteers, partners and donors to succeed.
Last year, Alabama 4-H worked with more than 138,000 youth. When you give to 4-H, you enrich young lives through designated support of a project area, event, scholarship or improved facilities.
Supporting Give to Grow
- Cash—This is the easiest way of giving to 4-H. Make checks payable to the Alabama 4-H Club Foundation, Inc., and mail to 227 Duncan Hall, Auburn, University, 36849
- Credit Cards—Visit the Alabama 4-H Club Foundation website at alabama4hfoundation.org for details about giving by credit card.
- Other ways to give—Securities, corporate matching gifts and planned deferred gifts are a few of the additional ways to give. For more options, visit the Alabama 4-H Club Foundation website at alabama4hfoundation.org.