Reservation youth explore robotics on 4-H National Youth Science Day


Reservation youth learn the importance of teamworks through building a 4-H Eco-bot. — submitted photo

Keller, WA (October 10, 2012) – Students in Keller Elementary school, located on the Colville Reservation, joined millions of young people across the nation to become scientists for the day during the fifth annual 4-H National Youth Science Day (NYSD). As part of the Colville Reservation Extension STAR (Science & Technology Across the Reservation) program, this annual event seeks to spark an early youth interest in science and future science careers, and to reclaim the nation's position of leadership in scientific exploration.

This year's experiment, 4-H Eco-Bot Challenge, introduced youth to robotic engineering concepts as they programed an autonomous robot to clean up a simulated environmental spill. The 4-H Eco-Bot Challenge demonstrated that by utilizing engineering principles, youth can have a positive impact on communities and ecosystems.

This is the fifth year that the Keller Elementary students have participated in 4-H NYSD. The Keller students enhanced their engineering skills by working in pairs to assemble their own Eco-Bots and surface controls to manage a mock environmental clean-up. Youth then tested the interaction between the Eco-Bot’s design features and various surface control configurations to determine the most effective clean-up solution for the simulated spill.

Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

Scientific exploration was carried on into the Keller After School program, where the students had an opportunity to analyze various tools and equipment used by scientists. Students were able to inspect, practice with and try on such items as lab coats, medical scrubs, magnifying glasses, pipettes, measuring devices, gloves and goggles. They then explained to the group what the items were used for and what type of career might use the equipment. Amy Martin, Colville Confederated Tribes Environmental Trust Wetlands Specialist, was on hand to explain what she does and what fields of study are required to prepare for careers related to the environment and ecology.

“Nationally, our young people are falling behind other countries in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math; here on the Colville Reservation is no exception" stated Linda McLean, WSU Colville Reservation-Ferry County FRTEP Extension Educator. "By providing educational, hands-on science activities, such as 4-H NYSD, we can offer youth and adults opportunities to work and learn together, thus building a stronger community.” McLean went on to say “By showcasing science in a non-formal and interactive way, and allowing youth to think outside the box, we encourage scientific exploration that may not occur in the classroom.

Research has shown that participation in 4-H programs like 4-H NYSD makes a positive difference in the lives of youth. When compared to other youth, young people involved in 4-H are:

• Two times more likely to get better grades in school;

• Two times more likely to plan to go to college;

• Nearly three times more likely to participate in science, engineering, or computer technology programs, and,

• Three times more likely to make positive contributions to their families and communities.

Overall, the study found that the advantages of 4-H participation include higher educational achievement and higher motivation for future education.

This year’s 4-H National Youth Science Day is jointly sponsored Toyota, Lockheed Martin, Donaldson, and John Deere. On a local level, AVISTA sponsored supplies/kits for the Eco-bot Challenge.

If you would like more information on 4-H or how you can start a 4-H club in your area, please contact Linda McLean, Colville Reservation-Ferry County Extension Educator, (509) 634-2305 or Or you may contact Dan Fagerlie, Project Director, (509) 775-5225 ext. 1113 or or the Okanogan County Extension office (509) 422-7245.


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