Registration for Bratney Companies 4-H Robotics Challenge Now Open

AMES, Iowa – Youth can register now for the fourth annual Bratney Companies 4-H Robotics Challenge at the 2013 Iowa State Fair. The senior division (grades 9-12) will participate Sunday, Aug. 11, and the junior division (grades 5-8) will participate Monday, Aug. 12. The challenges on both days are from 7:30 am to 1:30 pm 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 youth program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Robotics clubs or teams composed of three to 10 youth and up to two adult leaders/coaches may participate.


Registration for the event is open now until June 30. Applications will be reviewed and teams will be notified by July 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.


Teams will compete in the LEGO Mindstorms® NXT Challenge where they will design, build and program a robot that can accomplish a specific goal outlined the day of the competition. They will also compete in a surprise junk drawer challenge, which 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.”


Jerry Anderson, coach of the CyTech club, has been involved with the challenge for multiple years. He explained that the challenge is a great event for the kids involved and interested in engineering, math and science. “The biggest thing I see during the challenges is the teamwork developed amongst the kids,” said Jerry. “This is a great experience and I encourage any students who have an interest in science or math to get involved.”


“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.”


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