This year's experiment will introduce youth to robotic engineering concepts as they program a robot to clean up a simulated environmental spill. The 4-H Eco-Bot Challenge will demonstrate that by using engineering principles, youth can improve communities and ecosystems.
During the week of October 7-13, 4-H members across Louisiana will celebrate National 4-H Week with lessons and activities focused on learning more about science and living the 4-H pledge, which is:
I pledge my HEAD to clearer thinking,
My HEART to greater loyalty,
My HANDS to larger service,
And my HEALTH to better living,
For my club, my community, my country, and my world.
This is the fifth consecutive year for a National Science Experiment, in which 4-H’ers from across the country will conduct the same study during National 4-H Week. This year’s experiment is called “Eco-bot Challenge.” Every LSU AgCenter parish extension office in the state has been sent at least one kit with all the necessary materials for 4-H members to construct miniature robots and measure the amount of clean-up the “eco-bots” can do.
Watch the 3.5-minute video on how to do an environmental clean-up, such as an oil spill, with a robotic cleaner.
Mark Tassin, director of the LSU AgCenter 4-H program, says the eco-bot challenge will be a test for the students, but it will also be an enjoyable activity because of the creativity element it brings. “We believe that the students will enjoy this activity because it is both fun and challenging, and the students get to put their ideas into practice,” Tassin said.
4-H members are also encouraged to find a local environmental clean-up project and assist in making the area safer and more attractive.
4-H is no longer a rural-only organization that emphasizes just “cooking and cows,” Tassin said. The emphasis now in Louisiana and across the country is science, engineering and technology in 4-H projects.
“4-H offers many opportunities in science in our curriculum and projects,” Tassin said. “Our country is lagging behind in producing scientists, and we want to encourage our 4-H’ers to look into careers in science, engineering and technology.”
Some of the 4-H projects that young people can get involved in include robotics, rocketry, animal science, plant science and environmental science. For example, Louisiana 4-H offers a week-long camp in the summer dedicated to learning how to restore the coast and the marshes called “Marsh Maneuvers.”
Another week-long summer camp is called LOST, which stands for Louisiana outdoor science and technology. Campers learn how to protect and preserve the environment.
Because of the emphasis on science and math skills, studies show that children involved with 4-H do better in school than children not involved with 4-H, Tassin said.
“4-H activities complement what teachers are trying to teach in school,” Tassin said.
Children as young as 9 and young adults up to age 19 can join 4-H.
“We have an open enrollment year-round. We have no limits on membership. We grow to accommodate the needs of youth across the state,” Tassin said.
To find out more about 4-H and to join, you may contact the local LSU AgCenter parish extension office.
4-H is the nation’s largest youth organization and is administered in Louisiana by the LSU AgCenter. Louisiana has more than 250,000 members participating in 4-H activities every year. Nationally, more than six million youth participate in 4-H activities administered through 111 land-grant institutions.
Linda Foster Benedict
The LSU AgCenter is one of 11 institutions of higher education in the Louisiana State University System. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, it provides educational services in every parish and conducts research that contributes to the economic development of the state. The LSU AgCenter does not grant degrees nor benefit from tuition increases. The LSU AgCenter plays an integral role in supporting agricultural industries, enhancing the environment, and improving the quality of life through its 4-H youth, family and community programs.