Top Teams Named in 4-H Robotics Challenge

AMES, Iowa – There’s something about building robots that attracts future scientists and engineers – so it’s no surprise that 13 youth teams signed up for the 2011 Bratney Companies 4-H Robotics Challenge at the Iowa State Fair.

robotics challengeTeams competing in junior and senior divisions faced two challenges: building a robot using the Lego Mindstorms NXT platform and building a second robot using only the items in a “junk drawer,” explained Holly Bignall, with Iowa State University Extension Science, Engineering and Technology (E-SET).

“Robots are a really engaging platform for students to practice using the engineering design process and to develop their creativity, teamwork and thinking skills,” Bignall said. “Encouraging youth to develop these skills and enthusiasm for the field of engineering helps prepare them as members of the 21st century workforce and tomorrow’s leaders. Most importantly, challenges like this are a lot of fun!”

The following awards were presented during the Aug. 13-14 event held at the 4-H Exhibits Building. Photos can be viewed on Flickr.

Senior Division

  • MHS Robotics of Linn County received the 4-H Engineer Award, for the highest combined score from the challenge’s two robot building events. The team also received the NXT Challenge Award and the Creative Solution Award. The NXT Challenge Award goes to the team that scores the highest in the LEGO Mindstorms NXT Challenge Event championship. The Creative Solution Award goes to the team whose NXT robot demonstrates a remarkably creative solution to an engineering dilemma encountered. Team members are Tara Zumwalt, Ross Brunner, Steven Long and Quinn Lamb.
  • Master Builders of Winneshiek County received the Clover Award for demonstrating the 4-H values of teamwork, cooperation, generosity, responsibility, learning, working within space, time and materials constraints and showing respect for others. Team members are Logan Brincks, Lucas Brincks and Devin Franzen.
  • Science, Technology and Leadership Club of Muscatine County received the Junk Drawer Challenge Award as the top scoring team in that challenge and the Engineering Elegance Award for their robot’s visual appeal. Team members are Caleb Anderson, Collin Carroll, Max Roth and Aaron Scott.
  • Androids of the Round Table of Linn County received the Innovative Programming Award. This award goes to the team whose NXT Challenge program is notable for its innovation in producing desired robot behavior. Team members are Trevor Miller, Elijah Barker, Charity Barker, Marcie Gaebler, Sarah Weieneth and Daniel Weieneth.
  • The Robo-Bucs of Buchanan County received the Mechanical Ingenuity Award. This award goes to the team whose Junk Drawer Challenge robot is notable for out-of-the-box design solutions. Team members are Ben Collison, Jacob Newman, Colton Fisher, Jacob Lewis and Logan Reed.
  • John Weieneth and Carl Miller, the coaches of Androids of the Round Table, received the Golden Clover Volunteer Award. This award goes to team volunteers who provide leadership by encouraging teamwork and appropriate but restrained guidance, allowing youth to engage in the engineering process and being an example of 4-H values.

Junior Division

  • LEGO Medics of Polk County received the 4-H Engineer Award. Team members are Ben Means, Jacob Means, Max Beh, Andrew Cernicky, Matthew Cernicky, Zach Halter, Owen Trampe, Keirick Glennon and Jack Scholz.
  • Sac Operation Robotics from Sac County received the Clover Award. Team members are Austin Goettsch, Allison Kolbe, Ben Kolbe, Beth Pickhinke and Jon Pickhinke.
  • STEM-gineers from Green County received the NXT Challenge Award. Team members are Mason Osborne, Travis Gierstorf, Garrett Swain, Britton Gallagher and George Zito.
  • St. Augusteen Toxic Teens from Polk County received the Junk Drawer Challenge Award and the Innovative Programming Award. Team members are Gus Mote, Zachary Kobes, Peter Cappaert, Clair Cappaert and Rachel Pierck.
  • The Atomic Fireballs from Dallas County received the Engineering Elegance Award. Team members are Bryce Hanna, Kenzie Hanna, Kennon Bellile, Tanner Townes, Zac Bittinger, Josh Bittinger, Isaac Fritz, Katie Fritz and Nicholas Liittschwager.
  • Titanium Thunder from Guthrie County received the Mechanical Ingenuity Award. Team members are Ross Rumelhart, Jonathon Lauritsen, Jacob Joliet and Tyler Hanson.
  • The Mad Sciencebricks of Linn County received the Creative Solution Award. Team members are Jane Nemeth and Emily Foote.
  • Karen Halter and Meghan Glennon, the coaches of LEGO Medics, received the Golden Clover Volunteer Award.

About the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program

4-H is the youth program of America’s Cooperative Extension Service and is the nation’s largest youth development organization, serving more than 6 million young people across the United States with programs in leadership, citizenship, communication and life skills.

One in five Iowa school-age youth participates in Iowa State University Extension 4-H Youth Development programs, headquartered at the Iowa State University campus in Ames and available through ISU Extension and Outreach offices in all Iowa counties. 4-H is supported by federal, state and county funding, private grants and donations, and fees. For more information about joining 4-H, contact your ISU Extension county office at or visit