The 7th Annual 4-H Robotics Expo was held at University of Maine at Machias on Saturday, March 16th. Over 80 youth from nine schools from Washington County, Penobscot County and New Brunswick gathered to spend the day learning about and sharing their knowledge of robotics. Over twenty teams visited with judges and people from the general public during the morning session, demonstrating their robotic projects. “Maine 4-H is working to put more emphasis on the STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Math) skills than ever before to better prepare our youth for the future. Yet, life skills such as public speaking, problem solving, communication and team work are critical as well,” says Jen Lobley, UMaine Cooperative Extension Educator. “This event combines it all.”
The event is held on the University of Maine at Machias in an effort to connect youth to the campus. The afternoon offers science-based workshops led by faculty and staff members from UMM, UMaine Cooperative Extension, Maine Robotics and even by Quinn Sluzenski, a current Calais High School student and former Expo participant. From learning how to program robots to learning about a science summer camp offering at UMM, 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 workshop presenters are awesome! The kids love the topics and activities!”
The afternoon offers a challenge activity to interested teams. The activity challenged teams to program a robot that would “put out a fire”. The teams’ mission was to use the robot to cover the fire (flashlight) with a fire box. The team with the fastest score won. Programming the robots along with a lot of patience, critical thinking and problem solving was required.
Winners at this year’s Expo were as follows:
- Rookie All-Star Award: Lego Rookies of Princeton Elementary
- Creativity Award: 2 Artists of Charlotte Elementary and Mean Green Geckos of Edmunds School
- Best Robot Design: Mean Green Geckos from Edmunds School
- Best Non-Robotic Design: 9797 Newbies of Edmunds School
- Best Overall Presentation: Mean Green Geckos and Purple Pins from Edmunds School
- Community Service Award: Charlotte Elementary School
- Crowd Pleaser’s Award: Bay Ridge One from Bay Ridge Elementary School
- Challenge Event: Indian Township of Indian Township School
Special thanks to our volunteer judges from the community: Jane Bell, Tom Bickford, Danielle Bragg, Katherine Cassidy, Gretchen Cherry, George Crawford, Betsy Fitzgerald, Ben Goff, Mike Henry, Malcolm Holmes, Michelle Jaques, Catherine Kropp, Emily Lobley, Joan Miller, Reece Miller, Andrew Muholland, and Candy O’Brien.