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ALABAMA A&M UNIVERSITY, Ala.—Ten Urban 4-H teams with 29 students competed in the VEX IQ Robotics Competition. The competition was held at Wallace State Community College on Feb. 1. Students from Rolling Hills, Morris P8, Madison, and Owens Crossroads elementary schools in Madison County participated in the event. Homeschoolers from Lawrence County also showcased their talents.

The Competition

All students were required to design and build a robot that would compete against other team robots in an engineering game-like challenge. Final scores were based on robot design, programming skills, and the use of the VEX IQ notebook. The VEX IQ notebook allowed students to document the design, math, and other processes used to create and operate the robots. As a result, the students enhanced their leadership, teamwork, communication, and other STEM-related skills.

“I coached two homeschooled teams that rarely get the chance to compete with other students. Participating on robotic teams enhanced their communication and collaboration skills. Such skills are essential for success in the twenty-first century,” said Jessica Williams, STEM coach and urban regional Extension agent.

“I was also impressed with how well they worked as a team, and how well they communicated and strategized with other teams during the competition,” she said.

The Lawrence County students will also participate in the Alabama 4-H STEM Expo on March 12 in Russellville, Alabama.

Sponsorship and Future Plans

Sponsorship was provided by Alabama Extension, Robotics Education Competition Foundation, Rolling Hills’s 21st Century Grant BOOST Program, and a Girl Powered grant. Plans are already underway to expand the program next year.

“I am so proud of all my Urban 4-H participants. Consequently, I saw them grow in confidence and understanding of the engineering process. I look forward to expanding our reach even further in the realm of robotics and STEM through our 4-H programs in Madison County,” said urban regional Extension agent James Fountain.

Contact 4-H youth development specialist Angela Williams at (256) 372-5713 to learn more about Urban 4-H activities.

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