Over 60 youth and 30 adults from Sioux, O'Brien, Plymouth, Dickinson, Osceola, and Cherokee counties met at Dordt College on March 3 to celebrate and, to not only share what they learned through 4-H FIRST LEGO League (FLL), but also find out about the "next steps" of learning. Extension and 4-H staff Cindy Cleveringa, Kris Keene, Michael Compton and Wade Weber, from Sioux, O'Brien, Osceola and Dickinson Counties respectively, led the event. The event was held in partnership with Dordt College Engineering Professors Nolan Van Gaalen and Douglas De Boer. In the second year of FIRST LEGO League in northwest Iowa, it was noted that teams were somewhat isolated in their experience. In the spirit of gracious professionalism, the Science Engineering and Technology event gave teams an opportunity to share the technical and problem-solving decisions that were made by their teams regarding the building and programming of their robots. They also took turns sharing their research presentations. Youth and coaches were able to ask questions, share ideas and celebrate the learning that took place. In addition to the presentations, Dr. Van Gaalen and Dr. De Boer gave the teams a better understanding of an engineering career. Youth learned that engineers "design technologically sophisticated things" and "are people who are curious about how things work". They "appreciate the beauty of science and math and how it can be applied to designing solutions". Engineers do lots of different tasks; they research new ideas, develop new product, test things, supervise construction, design manufacturing operations, sell one-of-a kind, manage engineers and technicians, consult, and teach. To give the youth an idea of what they may be able to do if they chose an engineering career, they identified many engineering firms in the areaThey were also able to see the concrete canoe being constructed by Dordt engineering students. Following the event, Hospers, HTTP: Baconator, member, Dane Klein said, "I didn't know engineers got to do fun things like that!" Following the campus tour to the concrete canoe, teams were brought back together for a couple of challenges. The first ten-minute challenge was to construct, as a team, a LEGO vehicle. The goal was to build an un-motorized vehicle that would travel down a ramp and go the greatest distance. Sioux Center's team, Electro-virus, won the challenge, but all teams were successful in building their vehicle. Teams were then given another 10-minute challenge to use LEGO pieces to build their own trophy representing their team and what they learned. The Osceola County, God Cog Collaborators, shared this about their trophy design, "We learned a lot about teamwork, so we made it tall because we are learning more all the time." The Brain Bots from O'Brien County shared this, "We built ours creative, because our team is creative. We added the handles to represent Clint, our coach, because without him we wouldn't be here." Tyler De Hoogh of Sioux County Baconators said this about their trophy, "We learned a lot about food safety, so we built one big trophy with a smaller one inside, because we may not win first place like some teams, but we all have fun." When asked as a parent about the day, Kathy Gabel, Orange Tec parent said, "Saturday's event both inspired FLL youth with engineering career ideas like building green cars and designing cement canoes and gave them a place to share what they had been up to all season and see up-close what the other teams had accomplished." Sioux County 4-H County Youth Coordinator, Cindy Cleveringa, agrees. "In planning the event we hoped it would be a chance to showcase, celebrate and share what's been happening in 4-H robotics. From the comments we heard from kids and coaches, we think it was a successful first year and we hope to build on it." Summer camps are one way 4-H is planning to grow the robotics experience.Allison Weeldreyer, Northwestern College senior, has been hired to coordinate GEAR Tech camps in several Northwest Iowa counties, including Sioux County. The five-day camp targeted at 4th-9th graders is tentatively set for July 30-August 3. You do NOT have to be a 4-H'er or on a FIRST LEGO League team to participate in this great opportunity, so ask a friend to come with you. Youth will be building robots and programming software, working with GPS and learning how to program them and how the two can be integrated into careers. 4-H has always been about science and finding ways to "make the best better." Robotics is just one way 4-H is focusing on science, engineering and technology. Watch for information about a summer cooking camp in June and a vet camp in July.
If you want more information about any of these 4-H opportunities for your child, or how you can become a 4-H volunteer and share your passion about any of these project areas, contact Cindy Cleveringa, at the Sioux County Extension Office by calling 712-737-4230 or email email@example.com.