6th Annual Washington County 4-H Robotics Expo

The 6th Annual 4-H Robotics Expo was held at UMM on Saturday, March 24th.  Over 80 youth from 10 schools in Washington County gathered to spend the day learning about and sharing their knowledge of robotics.  Twenty-three teams visited with judges and people from the general public during the morning session, demonstrating their robotic projects.  “The Expo is a great opportunity for youth to interact with and learn from their peers, to connect with youth from other schools that have a common interest, and experience science in a fun, experiential way, says Jen Lobley, UMaine Cooperative Extension Educator.  “We know that youth learn best when they’re engaged in high interest, high tech, and high touch projects.  Add to that the chance to practice life skills such as cooperation, problem solving, communication, team work, and you’ve got a great example of positive youth development.”

The Expo had grown to more than just a display of robotics projects.  Last year, the event was moved to the University of Maine at Machias in an effort to connect youth to the campus.  The afternoon offers science-based workshops led by faculty members from UMM and UMaine Orono.  From chemistry and archeology to working in the GIS lab, youth attend two hands-on sessions in the afternoon.  “We want youth to see a variety of sciences, think about areas of study and possible careers that might be related to science,” said Lobley.
The afternoon offers a challenge activity to interested teams.  The activity challenged teams to design a robot that would “clean a room”.  The teams had 2 minutes to push as many Lego bricks under a bed as they could.  Programming the robots along with a lot of patience, critical thinking and problem solving was required.  There was also a programming workshop for coaches led by Quinn Sluzenski, a former 4-H Robotics Expo participant.  “It’s really exciting to have a teen come back and offer a workshop to adults!  What better way to demonstrate your understanding of subject matter than to re-teach it to others.  Quinn was awesome!”
Winners at this year’s Expo were as follows:

Best Robot Design, Creativity Award, Rookie All-Star Award, and Best Overall Presentation- Nanny ‘Bot from Edmunds School
Challenge Event- 1-800-Call-Mom from Edmunds School
Best Non-Robotic Design- Wolves from Machias Valley Christian School
Community Service Award- Machias Valley Christian School
Crowd Pleaser’s Award- Lego Bombers from Princeton Elementary

Special thanks to our volunteer judges from the community:  Brennin Consalvi, Andrew Mulholland, David Olsen, Carolyn Gillis, Mike Henry, Eric Holm, Theo Holm, Don Roos, Betsy Fitzgerald, Candy O’Brien, Mike Matis, Jack Matis, George Crawford, Catherine Kropp, Marilyn Ness and David Gholson.