By Ignacio "Iggy" RubalcavaOctober 16, 2012
Children at Baumholder's School Age Services and Teen Center become scientists for the day during 4-H National Youth Science Day Oct. 10. The 4-H Club is using this day to help teach children how to apply science and technology in solving environmental issues.
This year's project was the 4-H Eco-Bot Challenge. Children enhanced their engineering skills by assembling their own Eco-Bots to conduct an environmental clean-up. They tested the interaction of the Eco-Bot's design features on various surfaces to determine the most effective clean-up solution.
It was the first time that Baumholder children participated in this world-wide 4-H project.
"This was a project from the leadership forum earlier in 2012. Some of the teens and I learned how to do this project and we were supposed to come back and teach it to the SAS and to other teenage children," said Linda Wojcik, from Baumholder's Teen Center.
The object of the project was for children to learn about simple robotics and to apply what they learned and built to solving an environmental issue.
The Eco-Bots were constructed with a toothbrush head, a motor, a battery and some wires. The finished project was a vibrating robot that was turned loose to clean up an environmental spill.
Their environmental spill was a beach head drawn on a piece of paper. Bird seed was spread on the paper to simulate the spill. The Eco-Bot was turned loose on the "oil spill" to see how effective it was and the children were free to modify their Eco-Bot and make it more functional.
After the Eco-Bot did its job, its effectiveness was determined by applying a simple formula to the amount of surface that was brushed clean.
"The project was very successful. We had a youngster that came up with an entirely different way of modifying his Eco-Bot than anybody else I saw in all the training I went to," said Wojcik.
Brian Martinez, one of the youth at the Teen Center who participated in the project summed it up by saying, "We're learning how to build robots by using simple things in the household. We have a piece of paper with bird food on it and we created a barrier so the Eco-Bot wouldn't fly out and we just scrub all of the bird food out of the way."
"The kids had a great time with it and it was just a fun project," said Wojcik. Officials at Baumholder's SAS and Teen Center plan to make 4-H Science Day a regular activity for the youth.