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Operation Ecobot

Wolfskill 4-H | Solano County Status: Completed Categories: Engineering and Technology, Environmental Stewardship, Science Youth Leader: Riley | Age: 13

Due to budget challenges, our school district has cut time and resources for science in our classrooms. Emphasis on science principles have slowly slipped in importance within the K-6 curriculum and are now being challenged at the junior high and high school level. In fact on June 6th this year a state budget proposal was aimed to cut a second year of science from high school graduation requirements. These choices stem from the costs associated with science labs and inquiry-based exploration. By providing this event, we will be opening the opportunity to children within the area to explore, discover and create within a science theme.

How has 4-H helped?

We trained an eighth grade class on the Ecobot project and prepared them to be station leaders for a daylong Ecobot event. The preparation for the youth included: teambuilding, lessons on EPA and contaminated waste, lessons on robotics and their use in certain situations, teaching youth, and station management. We then invited teachers to sign up their classes to participate in the Ecobot challenge as well as providing an afterschool time for individuals to participate. We partnered with the Dixon Unified School District, and the Dixon Montessori Charter School contributed the use of its multipurpose room as well as chairs, tables and janitorial service for the daylong event. Participants were presented with the scenario and led in a discussion regarding toxic waste and clean up. They were then led in the creative construction time to create their own Ecobot and test it on trial mats before launching it on the challenge floor. The challenge floor had timers with mats and followed the rules in the handbook. If you successfully completed the challenge you received a certificate of completion.

"This is a great enriching experience for the kids. I am so glad my kids were able to experience it!"

-  Participant, Solano County 4-H Ecobot Challenge

The Impact

The event was well received and youth enjoyed troubleshooting a problem and designing their own ecobots. The kids thought it was a great time and learned a lot about simple machines and how to construct one. They also were interested in the oil spill and how robots could be constructed to really go help in a situation where it would be unsafe for humans. The event drew 305 participants and 20 youth volunteers (18 youth leaders and 2 adult leaders). The participants ranged from ages 5-16 and all participants received a certificate of accomplishment upon cleaning the grid of toxic contaminants (rice). One 4-H participant commented: "I learned a lot teaching the kids. It is harder than I thought and they ask things that you never thought of."