4-H robotics club fosters creativity
(From left) Phillip Johnson, 5, and Chris Johnson, 8, use an entry-level computer program called WeDo Robotics from LEGO during a Heroes with Heart Robotics Club meeting at the APG North youth center March 2.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Every other Sunday, children between ages 5 and 14 explore robotics with their parents at the APG North (Aberdeen) youth center Bldg. 2522.

Volunteers Jerry Chaney and his wife, Wendy Kosik Chaney from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, lead the Heroes with Heart 4-H Robotics Club, which focuses on the exploration of robotic systems, scientific inquiry and engineering design process. The Chaneys encourage the children to be creative and have fun with their friends and parents during the process.

?"It is a perfect program for children who usually shy away from STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] programs," Kosik Chaney said. ?"This is a relaxed, fun environment."

The club, which began last fall, has about 15 to 20 children attend each meeting. Children are not required to attend each meeting.

?"We realize that Families, especially military Families, have busy schedules," she said. ?"We want to be a flexible, inclusive club."

During meetings, the older children use the Mindstorms LEGO computer program to create customizable, programmable robots. The younger children, called the Clovers, use an entry-level computer program called WeDo Robotics, also from LEGO.

?"It?'s cool to build robots, and make them move," Jamilyn Hepner, 11.

Chris Apple from PEO C3T said he enjoys attending the meetings with his son, Foster Apple, 14.

?"We decided to come out one week and fell in love with it," said Chris Apple from PEO C3T. ?"The next meeting, we brought his friend, and they have so much fun while learning together. It is an amazing program."

Dylan Chung, from CERDEC and father of Daniel Chung, 10, said he thinks the club teaches the children valuable problem-solving skills.

?"The children are encouraged to use strategy to design the best robot," he said.

Kosik Chaney said last year a group of children from the club participated in a junior FIRST LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League competition during an FLL Qualifier on Dec. 7, at SURVICE Engineering. The rookie ?"Hero-Bots" team brought home the award for Best Robot Mechanical Design, which is displayed at the youth center.

?"FLL is just one component of our 4-H Robotics program for those who have the time and drive to do so," she said.

Kosik Chaney said eventually she would like to see the club grow even bigger, with more volunteers from the APG community, including teen volunteers. In the future, she said she would like to set up Skype sessions with other 4-H clubs from military installations overseas so they can share what they learned with each other.

?"I would like to see the older children teaching the younger children what they know, so we can grow our community," she said.

No cost is involved for the children who participate. The club?'s sponsors include Child, Youth and School Services, Lockhead Martin, the National Defense Education Program (NDEP) and 4-H.

Heroes with Heart Robotics is open to all eligible Child, Youth and School Services children and sponsored guests. A responsible adult must accompany their child during all meetings. No drop-offs are allowed. For more information about registering with CYSS, call 410-278-7571/7479 or visit http://www.apgmwr.com/family/youth_outreach.html.

For more information about Heroes with Heart Robotics e-mail the 4H club at HeroesWithHeartRobotics@gmail.com.

About 4-H Robotics (www.4h.org/)

4-H Robotics is delivered through 4-H clubs, camps, school enrichment, and after-school programs nationwide. Young people will engage in service learning and community service projects, develop leadership and citizenship skills, and develop numerous life skills taught in 4-H clubs nationwide. They will develop decision-making and critical thinking skills, and implement an understanding of the scientific and engineering design processes as they build real and virtual robots.

4-H Robotics is a unique opportunity to engage volunteers and corporate employees who can offer science expertise, workforce application, and mentoring to 4-H?'ers in local communities.

Page last updated Mon March 10th, 2014 at 14:40