WSU Extension 4-H Receives $50,000 Grant for Robotics: Teens Learn to Plan, Problem Solve, Design

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University Extension 4-H has been awarded a $50,000 grant from National 4-H Council and JC Penney to develop a multi-county robotics project. WSUE 4-H was one of five sites selected throughout the country in the continuing effort to educate youth in the areas of science, engineering, and technology through hands-on learning experiences in the 4-H program.

“The support from National 4-H Council and JC Penney gives us a giant step forward in our efforts to increase opportunities for youth to develop science skills and explore engineering career opportunities for their futures,” said WSUE 4-H Afterschool Specialist Janet Edwards.

WSUE 4-H will be forming community partnerships to start robotics-focused 4-H clubs across the state. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a not-for profit organization, will assist in recruiting teens, mentors and community partners. The 4-H robotics clubs will enter the FIRST Regional Robotics competition and compete in short games played by autonomous and remote-controlled robots at Qwest Field in Seattle, March 17-19.

Students will begin building the robots next January and have six weeks to build and wire prototypes, and then test and debug projects before the competition. After the competition, clubs will use their robots as teaching tools to share skills with others and expand expertise in science engineering and technology.

The project will train volunteers and youth and provide curriculum resources to continue to grow a statewide robotics program. JC Penney is also providing an additional $6,500 per site to cover the cost of robot kits and registration fees for the competition.

Counties forming new robotics 4-H clubs and participating in the competition are Spokane, Pierce, Whatcom, Benton/Franklin, Chelan/Douglas, Skagit, Grays Harbor, Clallam, Cowlitz, and Clark. Other counties will also have opportunities to add robotics to their local programs.