Bratney Companies 4-H Robotics Challenge

real time robotics design challenge! Here's your chance to show off your robot designing and programming skills. "Real time" means your club arrives at the event not knowing what the challenges will be. The morning of the event we will hold a Challenge Release where the details of each robotics design challenge are revealed. Your robotics club will receive two challenges; one using the LEGO Mindstorms© NXT platform, and a surprise junk drawer challenge. After the Challenge Release it's time to go to work! Your club works as a team to design a robot to meet each of the challenges. At the end of the working period, enter the Challenge Field and set loose your robots to the cheers of spectators!


2017 Bratney Companies 4-H Robotics Challenge!


Junior and Senior Division:

Sunday, August 13, 2017 from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Clover Kids Showcase:

Monday, August 14, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.



4-H Exhibits Building, Iowa State fairgrounds, Des Moines, Iowa (Map)


Who can participate?

Robotics clubs composed of 3 to 10 youth and up to two adult leaders/coaches. At least one member of the club must be a 4-H member (it's easy to join 4-H!)


Event Divisions

There are two age-based divisions: junior division for younger youth and senior division for older youth.

Junior Division:  Club members enrolled in 5th - 8th grades in the 2016-2017 school year.

Senior Division:  Club members enrolled in 8th - 12th grades in the 2016-2017 school year.


The Challenge:

This year’s challenge is the product of a partnership with Iowa State University 4-H and the College of Engineering. The challenge will focus on urban agriculture as the theme.  Additional details will be released the morning of the event, but here is an idea of what you can expect: 

LEGO Mindstorms® NXT Challenge - Design, build, and program a robot that can accomplish a specific goal. Participating clubs should have some experience working with the LEGO Mindstorms© NXT hardware and software. For additional details see the Robotics Club Packet (pdf).  Sponsored by the Iowa State College of Engineering.

Junk Drawer - This challenge will test engineering and teamwork skills by presenting a novel situation and innovative materials to work with. Each team will be given identical drawers full of materials. The challenge is to design and build a robot capable of accomplishing a specified task  (to be revealed during the Challenge Release). For additional details see the Robotics Team Packet.

Registration is open!

Registration is taken on a first-come-first-serve.  The registration deadline is July 7. Applications will be reviewed and teams will be notified by July 12 and asked to confirm. At least one member of each team is required to be a member of 4-H

To register your club for the Bratney Companies 4-H Robotics Challenge, complete the Online Registration Form.

Register online:


After registering:

Your club's leader/coach will receive an email containing:

  • Your club's status -- invited to participate or on waiting list -- based on the first-come-first-serve selection process.
  • The Robotics Club Packet with participation guidelines and additional details (also listed in the right-hand sidebar).
  • A link to the online Participation Confirmation Form that every club must complete to verify their attendance, the number of participants, and T-shirt sizes.
  • Forms you will need to fill out and bring with you to the Event (also listed in the right-hand sidebar).


Withdrawal deadline:

After the withdrawal deadline of July 19* each club leader/coach will receive:

  • Tickets to the Iowa State Fair for the day of the event for each participating club member and up to two leaders/coaches
  • Any updates or additional event details
  • Any unconfirmed slots will be offered to clubs on the waiting list at this time

*Teams may withdraw any time before July 19th without penalty.  After July 19th withdrawing will incur a $100 penalty.

If you have questions contact Vicki Speake




Past 4-H Robotics Events

The 2010 Bratney Companies Iowa 4-H Robotics Challenge @ the Iowa State Fair was a smash hit! Eight teams with a total of 34 members were challenged to design two completely separate robots in real time. Check out this video about the event produced by youth!


Questions about the Iowa 4-H Robotics Competition?

 Contact Vicki Speake at

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