ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The APG North (Aberdeen) youth center developing ROBOTICS program held an open house Aug. 13 to give the community a look at some of the new things coming up in Lego-designed platforms. The group focus is on youth exploration of robotic systems, scientific inquiry and the engineering design process, according to Norma Warwick, facility director.

"The open house allows parents and children of all ages to explore four Lego platforms and inquire about our developing club, Heroes With Heart Robotics. It's going to be a lot of fun," Warwick said.

The club stood up about a month ago and already is pursuing grants, she added. Already partnered with 4-H Youth Development Organization, the center's youth regularly compete in 4-H events during the annual Harford County Farm Fair.

"Robotics is not new to 4-H, it's just new to us," Warwick said. "This is the kind of grassroots building from the ground up that's getting kids interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects. It makes them knowledgeable and passionate about technology."

The new comprehensive robotics program is indeed designed to inspire an early interest in robotics engineering and technology, according to Jerry Chaney, an engineering technician with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the group's leader. Chaney, who coached a team at Roye-Williams Elementary School, asked Warwick about bringing an expanded family oriented program to the center.

The open house, he said, was held to draw interest, and hopefully, new members to the growing program. "The hope is to get this going and build up a nice technology outreach for the greater APG community," he said.

4-H Robotics offers a comprehensive curriculum, "4-H Robotics: Engineering for Today and Tomorrow," which introduces robotics to youth ages 9 to 18 with beginner, intermediate and advanced skill levels. There will also be a 4H Clover portion which is for youth ages 5-8. Chaney and his wife Wendy, an ARL Engineer, have two children enrolled in the youth center and in the 4-H Robotics program. They are not the only parent volunteers. Others include ARL's Lisa Marvel and Angelique Scharine as well as ARL interns James Bartkowski and Greg Tolj; Tat Fung from the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics, Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC); Kathleen Zielenski of the Network Enterprise Center and Dinah Thomas from the Program Executive Office- Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T).

The Heroes With Heart Robotics club is tentatively set to meet 5 to 6p.m. on a weeknight and for two hours on Sundays. For more information, contact Warwick at 410-278-9059; norma.a.warwick.naf@mail.mil or e-mail the 4H club at HeroesWithHeartRobotics@gmail.com.

4-H Robotics


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.