The competition begins at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Activities and
Recreation Center, 201 East Peabody Drive in Champaign.
is free and open to the public by using the far northeast door of
Gym 1. The entrance will be noted with 4-H clover signs and flags.
Prior to the robotics challenge, a technology showcase featuring
several departments on campus will demonstrate innovative
science-related devices. The showcase begins at 11 a.m.
"In this year's challenge, teams must design a robot that will
move packages through a warehouse," said Bob Smith, Extension
robotics statewide educator. "Robots must move packages from shelves
to a shipping area."
If teams are able to move packages to shelves that are at least 2
inches off the floor, they earn additional points, Smith said. Extra
points are also awarded if the robot moves over obstacles and around
other obstacles while on task. As a final challenge, the teams may
try to move packages from a "return" area back to the shelves.
"This type of robotic activity simulates what happens in real
warehouses throughout the country," Smith said. "Teams are left to
their own creativity on the look of their warehouse and their
robots. With 45 teams in the competition, we'll have 45 very
different ways to attacking this challenge."
In addition to the table competition where the robots complete
the warehouse task, team members must also describe their robot
designs to a panel of judges. A third division of the contest
includes the teamwork challenge, where judges assess how well the
team works together. The final two phases of the competition are
closed to the public.
Judging should finish by 3:30 p.m., with an awards presentation
starting at about 4:30. Demonstrations by high school robotics teams
will follow the judging.
"The demonstrations by the high school teams have been a real
crowd-pleaser," Smith said. "The young 4-H members really look up to
these teen mentors, and the teens take a lot of time to talk with
the younger members and encourage their interest in science and
Several booth demonstrations will interest the general public,
including 3-D printers from the Champaign Urbana Community Fab Lab
and a student in mechanical engineering. The Champaign-Urbana
Community Fab Lab is a small-scale workshop for computer-based
innovation, design and fabrication.
"The Fab Lab allows you to dream up, design and make almost
anything you can imagine, using open-source software and DIY
equipment," Smith said. "Visitors can learn about the ways the lab
is used to teach kids digital literacies and work on projects like
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The Solar Decathlon team will demonstrate the team's
solar-powered house. Engineers Without Borders will show the
group's latest water project and light-vehicle bridge.
"The Bioengineering Department will demonstrate a neural headset
which uses brain waves to control a robot arm," Smith said, "as well
as a device that detects and alerts you to poor posture."
The Micro Lab will also have a display controlling motors and
servos with Arduino microcontrollers and a pneumatic soft robotics
actuator, which acts like a computer-controlled, air-powered
University of Illinois Extension will showcase the many
science-related 4-H projects, including its 4-H Citizen Scientist
program, which trains youth to collect river and stream samples for
data to be compiled. Several opportunities within the Illinois 4-H
robotics program will also be demonstrated.
"Kids can build marshmallow catapults and attempt to launch
marshmallows 6 feet across the gym," Smith said, "or use ‘squishy
circuits' to build boards with blinking LED lights."
Smith added, "Illinois 4-H strives to teach youth skills for
General information about how individuals can become involved in
4-H will be available, and staff will be on hand to answer
questions. Older teens can register for the state 4-H Illini Summer
Academies, which allow teens to stay overnight on campus for four
days and receive personal instruction from 12 different departments
To learn more about Illinois 4-H robotics and the state robotics
competition, contact Smith at 217-333-0910 or email him at
strives to help youth learn skills for living. University of
Illinois Extension provides 4-H programs in every county in
Illinois. Illinois 4-H aims to influence the lives of 200,000 youth
each year through sustained learning clubs and groups and short-term
[Text from file received from