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Youth robotics competition revolves around work of ag scientists, engineers

Winners pose with ribbons.

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Youth from 30 teams across Illinois demonstrated their learning, celebrated their accomplishments, and interacted with others who share an interest in robotics at the 2024 4-H Robotics Competition held at the Interstate Center on the McLean County Fairgrounds on May 4.

The competition theme this year tasked youth with thinking about a world of never-ending technological advancements through the lens of AgTech.

“From the foods that we eat, to the clothes that we wear, Agriculture plays both the lead, and several supporting roles in this theater. With the threat of drought, global disasters and worldwide food shortages, AgTech may be the hero mankind has been waiting for,” says University of Illinois Extension 4-H youth development specialist Keith Jacobs. “It will be this generation of youth minds that will be charged with saving our civilization and innovating the changes we hope to see for our agricultural future and that’s what we’re challenging youth to bring to this competition.” 

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. Teams begin preparing months before the competition.

“We actually started on everything a few months ago,” says competitor Ruhaan Kumar of Cook County. “We’ve been doing presentation runs, doing zoom calls, and meeting in person to do table runs to prepare. It’s been really fun.”

Competition judges were on hand to score events and determine the competition category winners. Teams were evaluated on Table Performance Judging, Technical Judging, and Teamwork Judging

Level 1 Champions went to Marshall Putnam Intermediate of Marshall Putnam County. Level 2 Champions went to Code on the Cob of Cook County.

Level 1 Reserve Champions went to the Not the Farmers You Ae Looking For of Pulaski-Alexander County. Level 2 Reserve Champions went to the Got Robot? of Kane County.

Rookie Champions went to the Willing Worker Bots of Warren County. Rookie Reserve Champions went to The Penguin Team of Cook County.

Other category wins included:

The Level 1 Programming Award went to the Rovra 4-H Tiger Bots of Knox County. Level 2 Programming Award went to High Voltage of Woodford County and the Rookie Programming Award went to the Hinsdale Untitled Monkeys of Cook County.

The Level 1 Overall Robot Design Award went to the BronzeBots of Cook County. The Level 2 Overall Robot Design Award went to the Mechanical Misfits of Will County. The Rookie Overall Design Award went to the Stephenson County 4-H Robotics of Stephenson County.

The Level 1 Best Table Performance went to Bolts Brains & Bots of Clark County. The Level 2 Best Table Performance went to the Code on the Cob of Cook County and the Rookie Best Table Performance went to Willing WorkersBots of Warren County.

The Judges’ Choice Award went to Marshall-Putnam Senior Robotics of Marshall-Putnam County. 

The Team Spirit Award went to Wayne County Robo Rebels of Wayne County. 

The Most Creative Award went to the GroveCodeMasters of McLean County.

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

“What I want to learn about the most next year is coding and trying and trying different methods,” says competitor Hanzhi Jing of Cook County.

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. 

For Further Information Contact:

Source: Keith Jacobs, U of I Extension 4-H Youth Development Specialist, STEM (217) 300-0496

Writer: Carissa Nelson, Media Communications Manager, 

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. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.