4-H Youth Take On Missouri 4-H Robotics and STEM Challenge

Friday, May 10, 2019

On April 13, youth joined other 4-H members for the Missouri 4-H Robotics & STEM Challenge on the University of Missouri Campus in Columbia. These young people exhibited the skills and knowledge gained in the robotics and computer science projects. Challenges included the Unknown and Known Robotics Challenges; Sumo Robots; Motorized Challenge; robotics and STEM exhibits; and virtual entries for Animate a Name and Turtle Blocks.

Mateo Hayward of Cape Girardeau County 4-H was awarded the first Bill Pabst 4-H Opportunity Award for his selfless characteristics in sharing the joy of science with others. Pabst was a retired MU Extension 4-H science specialist who graciously shared many opportunities with youth, volunteers, and staff to spread non-formal science education to all. Hayward participated in the robotics exhibit with a Lego Mindstorm color sorter and the Animate a Name. He was helpful to other exhibitors and engaged with visitors to the event at the hands on science displays.

Other award winners were: Matthew Barry and Reid Bennet of Lewis County in the Known Robotics Challenge and Robotics Exhibit; Declan and Jackie Kelly of St. Louis County in Unknown Robot Challenge and Sumo Robots; Kaleb Ledgerwood and Royce Ledgerwood of Oregon County in Animate a Name; Matthew Barry in Turtle Blocks; and Olivia Pfeiffer of St. Louis County in STEM exhibit.

Drachen Koester, Kaitlyn Foster, and Olivia Pfeiffer, 4-H STEM youth committee members, served as the emcees and opened the challenge with the American and 4-H pledges. Dr. Lupita Fabregas welcomed the 4-Hers and their families to the day by telling them that the country needs lots of engineers and 4-H can help today’s youth become engineers. She wished all the competitors good luck. Participants in the Unknown Challenge could get early hints to the challenge by contributing canned foods to the 4-H Feeding Missouri project. There were two cases of food given during the day.

The Missouri 4-H Robotics and STEM Challenge was held in conjunction with the Show Me Mizzou event on the MU campus and exposed many visitors to the scope of 4-H. The 4-H Science Matters teen team from St. Louis County engaged with projects PPALS making dog toys to raise awareness of abandoned pets; WORM (Working on Recycling More) showed ways to compost and recycle, and ProMO taught about promoting the health of Missouri through healthy living and food insecurity. 4-H Science Matters is a grant sponsored by Bayer and the National 4-H Council to engage teens as teachers with delivery of projects in the community.

To combat a state shortage of young people pursuing science college majors and occupations, the Missouri 4-H Robotics and STEM Challenge works to spark an early youth interest in science and science careers. The Missouri 4-H STEM committee made up of youth, volunteers and 4-H staff who conducts and coordinates the event. Sponsors of the challenge is MFA, Incorporated and the Missouri 4-H Foundation, with key support from the MU Extension office of Research, Extension and Engagement.

“Engaging youth in scientific exploration early on provides the necessary platform that they need to build a long-lasting interest in the field, and to make ongoing contributions to the sciences,” said Lynna Lawson, 4-H Youth Development Specialist. “Science is often an overwhelming and consequently overlooked subject for young people, but events like the 4-H robotics and STEM challenge makes science exciting, accessible, and relevant. Kids will learn about cutting-edge technologies and will be encouraged to continue their science exploration by applying what they’ve learned in their communities and their homes.”

As part of the Cooperative Extension System of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and implemented by the nation’s 109 land-grant colleges and universities, 4-H has been educating youth in the sciences for more than 100 years. 4-H’s robust, university research-based science curriculum, combined with new initiatives like Missouri 4-H Robotics and STEM Challenge Day, will arm youth with the necessary technical skills to help America maintain its competitive edge in the global marketplace.

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