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Our Illinois 4-H Story

Middle school students bring creativity to life through 4-H robotics

Twenty-five teams of middle-school students from DuPage, Kane and Kendall counties displayed their technical, creative and teamwork skills during the 4-H Robotics Box Bot Showcase in Elgin on Saturday, March 22. Throughout the afternoon, 4-H members showcased their Lego Mindstorm robots in creativity, table performance, and technical categories. They also completed a teamwork challenge without their Bots.

The event was led by 4-H Robotics Team got robot?, which competes at the FIRST Tech Challenge level, and was hosted by U of I Extension at Abbott Middle School in Elgin. All the youth are 4-H members. This National 4-H Council grant-funded program impacts more than 300 youth in DuPage, Kane and Kendall counties alone this year, and additional sites are funded around the state.

The 2014 4-H Robotics Box Bot Showcase championship was earned by Trinity Trailblazers Team White of DuPage County. Reserve champion honors went to Creepy Pasta from Abbott Middle School of Elgin and Herrick Middle School Team No. 3 of Downers Grove.

"Seeing all the hard work and creativity come to life in the eyes of the kids and in the maneuvers of their Bots is just awesome," said Donna Nuger, U of I Extension 4-H youth development educator.

"I like hands-on projects," said Moriah Stefanski of the Champion Trinity Trailblazers Team White. "It was so much more fun than I expected because we got to do it and learn it ourselves."

For Abbott Middle School student Andrew Haberstitch, 14, the experience also fits his career aspirations. "I want to build robots for the military so people can be safer on the frontline," he said. "This is teaching me about robots, programming and building."


Judy Mae Bingman, University of Illinois Extension Marketing and Communications Manager

Judy uses powerful words and photography to tell the Extension story. She is a skilled communication strategist and storyteller with demonstrated success in building teams and creating strong organizational brand identities that deepen Extension’s impact among key audiences, build brand loyalty, strengthen employee talent, and expand public engagement. She is a frequent conference presenter at the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents Conference and helps Extension staff across the nation tell compelling stories.