Youth compete in robotics competition that’s out of this world

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. ­– Youth from 13 teams across Illinois demonstrated their learning, celebrated their accomplishments, and interacted with others who share an interest in robotics at the 4-H SpaceBot Mission Command Challenge Robotics Competition held at the Interstate Center on the McLean County Fairgrounds on April 16.

youth examine a robotics table

The competition theme this year was drawn from the work of the 4-H in Space Mission Command Youth Team, which prepares curriculum and programming options for Illinois youth working with the International Space Station National Laboratories (ISS) and The Lab for Advanced Space Systems at Illinois, Department of Aerospace Engineering, (LASSI).

Illinois youth ages 8-18 competed in teams of three to ten youth at two levels of competition. Teams competing at the Rookie level had never competed in a 4-H, FLL/FTC/FRC competition. Those competing in the Advanced level had previously competed in those types of competitions.

“I really appreciated the chance to learn and develop with my teammates the skills that could really help me out in the real world,” says first-time competitor Brogan Keltner of the A2=B2+C2 Team of Stephenson County. “We did a lot of practicing and we knew there would be a lot of pressure, so we really dialed down and worked as a team together to prepare.”

Competition judges were on hand to score events and determine the competition category winners.

“It’s really fun to see what kids are doing and there are so many different ways that the teams achieve and solve the same task,” says past competitor and three-time judge Dhruv Rebba of McLean County. “It’s cool to think I was in their same position when I was little and it’s really fun to see. As a past competitor, I understand everything you go through and it helps to understand how things work and how the teams program and I can make more informed decisions as a judge.”

Advanced Champions went to the Code Breakers 1 of Macoupin County. Team members included Braden Bowker, Ben Schuette, Kolten Freeland, Michael Barber, Zep Reiher, Jonathan Royer, Ethan Schuette, Alexander Behme, and Caleb Cloninger.

Reserve Advanced Champions went to the Duh-code-duh Team of Union County.  The team was also the recipients of the Advanced Programming Award and All Team Spirit Award.  Team members include: Callysta Borders, Kaylie Adams, Kim Adams, and Leanna Henson.

Rookie Champions went to the A2=B2+C2 Team of Stephenson County.  This team was also named the winners of the Rookie Table Award. Team members include Cassandra Bausman, Connor Bausman, Brogan Keltner, and Wade Sheffey.

Reserve Rookie Champions went to The Amateurs of Kane County.  Team members include Phoenix Chansophy, Anthony Flores, Annalizette Gallegos, Kentyn Treadwell, Claire Yu, Rayna Jackson, Reed Mihelich, and Aidan Klapperich.

Other category wins included:

The Rookie Design Award went to the EcoBots Team of Cook County.  Team members include Ishaan Wu, Jayin Wu, Edward Caron, Jaxson Dunning, Aden Grabowski, Mark Yagger, Saijan Wu, Reese Lyon, and Paige Lyon.

The Advanced Design Award, Advanced Table Award, and Advanced Creativity Award went to Marshall-Putnam Robotics of Marshall County. Team members include Daphne Heeley, Gwen Heeley, Samantha Nauman, Keira Knapp, Lillian Lindstrom, Cooper Hattan, Logan Siegmann, Kale Lindstrom, and Waylon Lindstrom.

The Rookie Programming Award and Rookie Creativity Award went to Rebels: The Broken Gears of Union County. Team members include Trystan Borders, Sabryna Borders, Katryna Borders, Michael Skelton, Landon Ralls, and Ava Ralls.

The Judges’ Choice Rookie Award went to Rebel Robotics of Will County. Team members include Matthew Selucky, Mary Shapkauski, Jacob Phillips, Adeline Shapkauski, Caleb Punete, Connor Phillips, Beth Schreurs, and Johann Hienez.

The Judges’ Choice Advanced Award went to the CHMS Spartan Robotics Team of Cook County. Team members include Raymon Colin, Aryan Navarro, Carter Handy, Brody Berg, Romeo Lopez, Tyler Carlson, Rafael Ibarra, Kelsey Peterson, Daman Casimiro, and Mark Casmiro.

Those interested in exploring robotics are encouraged to reach out to their local Extension Office to connect with a 4-H robotics experience.

“I would say definitely do it,” says Brogan. “Because I really enjoyed this year, just programming and learning and developing with my team.”

About Illinois 4-H: Illinois 4-H is the flagship youth development program of University of Illinois Extension and administered through the College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. 4-H grows true leaders, youth who are empowered for life today and prepared for a career tomorrow. The hands-on approach in 4-H gives young people guidance, tools, and encouragement, and then puts them in the driver’s seat to make great things happen. Independent research confirms the unparalleled impact of the 4-H experience, demonstrating that young people are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs. 

About Extension:  Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. 

For Further Information Contact:

Source: Keith Jacobs, U of I Extension 4-H Youth Development Specialist, STEM kjaco4@illinois.edu

(217) 300-0496

Writer: Carissa Nelson, Media Communications Manager, carissa7@illinois.edu