Robotics Challenge at the Iowa State Fair Open to All Iowa Youth

AMES, Iowa – Youth can register now for the third annual Bratney Companies 4-H Robotics Challenge at the 2012 Iowa State Fair. The junior division (grades 5-8) will participate on Friday, Aug. 10, and the senior division (grades 9-12) will participate Saturday, Aug. 11. The challenge will be held in the 4-H Exhibits Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

Iowa youth will show off their robot designing and programming skills in this “real-time” challenge, said Holly Bignall, 4-H program coordinator with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Science, Engineering and Technology (E-SET). Robotics clubs or teams composed of three to 10 youth and up to two adult leaders/coaches may participate.Robotics Challenge

Registration for the event is open now until June 1. Applications will be reviewed and teams will be notified by June 1 and asked to confirm. At least one member of each team is required to be a member of 4-H. Youth can join 4-H at their county Iowa State University Extension and Outreach office.

“A real-time challenge means your team arrives at the event not knowing what the challenges will be. The challenges are then announced at the event and the teams must work together to design a robot to meet each of the challenges. At the end of the working period, teams will enter the Challenge Field and set the robots loose to the cheers of spectators,” Bignall said.

In past years teams completed a LEGO Mindstorms® NXT Challenge where they designed, built and programmed a robot that can accomplish a specific goal outlined the day of the competition.

The Junk Drawer Challenge is designed to test engineering and teamwork skills by presenting a novel situation and everyday household materials to work with. Youth teams then must design a robot capable of accomplishing a task using only the materials in the “junk drawer.”

“We appreciate Bratney Companies’ continued sponsorship of this event,” Bignall said. “Their dedication to helping youth develop skills is advancing our next generation of leaders in the areas of science and technology, which ultimately impacts the future of our state.”

For more information visit

Register online:


Contact: Steph Ferguson, 4-H State Fair Event Coordinator,

Photos from 2011 Event: