Revving Robots – not your Mom & Dad’s 4-H Club!
Robots, friends, and fun. These 3 things are at the core of Story County 4-H’s three FIRST Robotics programs. The 3 programs accommodate 4-H youth ages 9-18, and there is a little something for everyone on one of these teams.
FIRST Lego League (FLL) is an enthusiastic group of 4-Hers ages 9-12, and their season runs throughout the Fall. Along with building and programming a robot for the game challenge, the team must also show how they work together as a team, and then research and present a special project for the judges at their competition. The “challenge” or theme changes every year, and this year it was called “Nature’s Fury” and related to natural disasters. They competed at a regional tournament in Maxwell in December, and the State Tournament at ISU in January. The theme for this coming Fall’s challenge has been released already and it is called “World Class Challenge”, which focuses on new ways kids need and want to learn in the 21st century. The leader and contact for 4-H FLL in Story County is Andy Terry.
The FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics club team #7491, the Honey Badgers, is currently made up of 9 members ages 12-18. This group meets weekly during their build season in the Fall, and then monthly after that. Their challenge this past season was “Block Party” and they had to build a robot that could carry 2” square blocks around a 12’ x 12’ field to score points in the appropriate score zones. The team also completed an engineering notebook and had a team interview with judges as part of their competition. This year the Honey Badgers competed in two FTC tournaments, the John Deere Financial tournament in Johnston, and the Kennedy Invitational tournament in Cedar Rapids. It was a wonderful learning year for this rookie team, and the members are excited to start the new season off this September using what they learned from last year’s challenge. The team has been fortunate to recently receive a state STEM Scale-Up grant to help fund a playing tournament field, which they are excited to use for upcoming scrimmages and tournaments! Leaders and contacts for the FTC team are Jane Runneals, Charlotte Hippen, and James and Kate Borton.
The First Robotics Challenge (FRC) team, Team Neutrino, started in 2012 at Ames High School. They just recently completed their third season. This team currently consists of 15 high school students from Ames, Ballard, and surrounding area, as well as ISU, professional, and parent mentors.
This season, the team learned more about the process of designing, building, programming and testing a robot. This year’s game, called Aerial Assist, had teams build a robot that had to pass a 2 foot diameter exercise ball to other robots and then shoot it into goal on the opposite side of the field.
Team Neutrino is actively involved in outreach and spreading the message of FIRST to our communities. Team Neutrino aims to have a positive impact in the community and to get kids excited about STEM. The team participates in various demonstrations and activities such as: Summer Classes, STEM day at the state capitol, and demonstrations at the Science Center of Iowa, and the County and State fair.
The team competed at two regionals this past spring. At Kansas City, they were ranked 9th overall, and were quarterfinalists in the elimination rounds. At Minnesota North Star, they were ranked 12th overall, and were quarterfinalists in the elimination rounds. The team was also a gracious recipient of the Engineering Inspiration award, which earned them a ticket to the FRC World Championships in St. Louis! There, Neutrino played in the Newton division, and was selected to be on the 4th seed alliance, where they competed into the semifinals.
Overall, Team Neutrino had a very successful 3rd season, and everyone is looking forward to next year! Thanks to all our excellent mentors and leaders, this team hopes to be involved as a proud part of Story County 4-H for years to come! Neutrino’s team parent leader is James Devig.
More information about FIRST can be found at: http://www3.usfirst.org/
And information about Story County 4-H’s FIRST Robotics teams can be had by contacting Mary Wilkins at Story County 4-H: [email protected]