4-H Legos Robotics Challenge Features Service Learning Projects 

Last Updated on Aug 1, 2018 at 4:15pm | Education

Article courtesy of NCWV Media - The Republican. Staff Writer: Renee Shreve. Photo Credit: Renee Shreve.
While fun and exciting, robotics competitions are often more than cleverly constructed machines battling for supremacy in a show ring, they can be chances to educate the public about important issues.
Steel Legos I, the Builders of Bittinger and Steel Legos Rebooted epitomized that during the 4-H Legos Robotics Challenge Tuesday afternoon at the Garrett County Agriculture Fair in McHenry.
The competition took place on the newly constructed 4-H Outdoor Stage.
“This year’s theme is First Responders,” said Serena Lewis, a member of Steel Legos Rebooted, about the challenge.
All of the games centered around completing “missions” involving emergency medical services, fire and rescue and/or law enforcement.
“We programed and built Lego robots to complete the missions on the field,” Serena said. “One of the missions is getting the fire truck, putting some water pieces in, and taking it to the ‘arson investigation’ area.”
She noted there were “tons” of other cool-to-watch missions.
Andrew San Julian, Steel Legos, talked about the technical aspects of the challenge.
“During the ‘tech talk’ we just explain what the missions are and what we do,” he said. “And we tell them (the judges) how we created our missions and attachments.”
The judges for this segment of the competition were Arlene Lantz and Phil Malone.
Another challenge requirement involved a service learning project centered around the theme.
University of Maryland Extension agents Ann Sherrard and Karen Wood, 4-H youth development, served as judges for this portion of the competition.
“Each team had to pick either the fire department, EMS or police and do a community service for each area,” explained Sara Huelskamp, Builders of Bittinger team member. “They could do something at the department or out in the community.”
Her team chose the Bittinger Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department. Members toured the facility and talked to the volunteers in order to learn about the services they provide to Bittinger and surrounding areas.
BOB team member Jacob reported the department averages around 300 calls a year, mostly those involving medical issues.
“They purchase their own equipment, fuel and other items through fundraising and grants,” he said about the nonprofit department,” Jacob said. “The average operating expense per year ranges from $100,000 to $120,000.”
After touring the department, Sarah said, and realizing how much money is needed to keep it running, BOB decided to volunteer at one of its chicken dinner fundraisers.
“We each helped serve food,” she said, “and half of the money went to one of the members who has cancer and the other half went to the department.”
SL and SL Rebooted chose EMS for their service learning projects, specifically the Stop the Bleed. They explained the program via a skit that included a light saber battle between Darth Vader and Luke Sky Walker.
SL members said they toured the Deep Creep Volunteer Fire Company, where they learned about Stop the Bleed and the importance of having tourniquets and knowing how to use them to save lives.
SL Rebooted also performed a skit involving a TV news reporter, an EMT and commercials.
The members explained that Stop the Bleed was started by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in October 2015. Its goal is to encourage bystanders to become trained and equipped in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives.
To help with that mission, SL and SL Rebooted will host a Stop the Bleed program during a car hop on Aug. 11, 4–8 p.m., at the GEARS (Garrett Engineering and Robotics Society) building in Accident.
In addition to educating the public about the program, team members will hand out tourniquets they purchased through a fundraiser, as well as 40 that were donated by Mountain Laurel Medical Center.
Raffle tickets featuring items donated by local groups and businesses will be available for purchase. The proceeds will be used to purchase additional tourniquets.
For more information, call the Garrett County Extension office at 301-334-3960.