Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on January 19, 2012. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Robotics projects inspire rural youth
MISSISSIPPI STATE – 4-H robotics projects spark interest in science and technology in youth in some of the state’s most rural communities.
Mariah Smith, an assistant professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, is coordinating the program for Mississippi 4-H. In addition to attending local meetings, the club members can take part in online chats to learn new skills and take on new challenges.
“If requested, counties may use statewide videoconferencing for additional technical assistance in science, technology and engineering that may be hard to come by in smaller communities,” Smith said.
In recent years, hundreds of Mississippi 4-H youth have taken part in robotics projects. The statewide 4-H project kicked off its new year Jan. 14 with a capacity crowd at MSU. Participants will continue monthly activities until the robotics contest at 4-H Club Congress and Project Achievement Days in June.
“Each month, the participants build on their robotics knowledge. Topics include ultrasonic sensor and analog input, light sensor and digital input and output, touch sensor and conditional programming and Bluetooth technology,” Smith said.
Dawn Westbrook, a 4-H volunteer in Yazoo County, said robotics projects lay the foundation for math skills.
“Robots are just puzzles, and puzzles promote math skills,” she said. “Kids are figuring out how to build them, and they might have to adjust their plans because of issues like weight or gears. The projects help kids see that they will use algebra every day.”
Westbrook has been leading robotics projects for two years. She said most of the participants are from rural areas and many are homeschooled, but the most common thread among “robotineers” is their interest in math and science.
“What attracts kids to the project varies from child to child. Some love building things; others like the programming aspect; some like the competition, or it could be combinations of those,” she said.
Extension 4-H agent Terence Norwood began working in Jefferson Davis County in October 2011. Building a robotics program is high on his list of goals. At the recent statewide kick-off, he taught the intermediate track.
“Robotics projects are a great way to bridge the technology gap in rural areas and encourage youth in science and technology,” he said.
Boys and girls ages 8 to 18 are members of the 4-H robotics clubs. Cloverbud robotics clubs are available for children as young as 5. Contact the local county Extension office for more information on the 4-H robotics program.
Released: Jan. 19, 2012
Contact: Mariah Smith, (662) 325-3226