A new and exciting 4-H project that youth from all around the state are participating in is LEGO® Robotics. This project area is designed to engage youth in science, engineering and technology by designing, building and programming robots that accomplish specific tasks. Many 4-H clubs participate in local competitions to demonstrate the effectiveness of their robot's design and programming. The competitions also provide the youth with opportunities to address and solve real world problems using their robotic design experience.
One 4-H club from St. Louis County, made up of six 10-13 year olds, took the theme for this past year's competition, weather related disasters, and created a solution that is a marketable product with the potential of saving many lives. The specific problem they chose to address was the difficulty rescue workers encounter when trying to locate people whose cars have slid off roads into deep ditches or are stranded in flood waters.
After extensive research, including information gathering from local fire fighters, police officers, and tow truck drivers the club landed on a solution: an emergency light on a telescoping rod that is small enough to fit in a glove box, but when extended to capacity (up to eight feet) and attached to a vehicle window, can flash for up to 10 hours. When a car slides into a snowy ditch, the beacon will help a tow truck driver locate them, or if there is a flash flood, rescue workers can find someone stranded on their car and take action. The 4-H youth designers are currently seeking a patent for their design, and hope to produce them commercially in order to help save people in these bad weather situations.
This 4-H robotics project is another great example of how 4-H uniquely empowers youth to use their heads to solve real world issues and get excited about technology, engineering and science through hands on learning experiences. The Minnesota 4-H Foundation is proud to financially support this and many other science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) projects across Minnesota. To learn more about how you can get involved with helping youth solve the real world challenges of today and tomorrow, click here or give us a call. We'd love to get you connected!
By Frank Mumford
Director of Annual Giving
Minnesota 4-H Foundation