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Community Impact: Area 4-H Students Go Hi-tech in Robotics Studies

Students with eyes on the future get technologically advanced robotics training through Barrow County 4-H and Jackson County 4-H programs that inspire innovation while building skills in science, engineering and technology.

Each program received a $6,000 grant from the Jackson EMC Foundation in November to purchase materials for their robotics initiatives, including supplies such as hobby motors, calculators, model rocket kits, tools and equipment.

In its third year, Jackson County 4-H FIRST Robotics Team 4189 includes 24 members from grades 9-12 and is open to students in all high schools in Jackson County.

“Our goal is to spark creativity in our team members, get them curious and wanting to know more,” says the team’s business mentor, Beth Jarrett. “With two years of experience behind us, our team is ready to go to the next level of sophistication and technological achievement.”

The Barrow County 4-H Robotics program involves the Tech 4-H group which consists of students in grades 5-8 with high school students serving as teachers and mentors.

Both robotics groups plan to take part in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition in which they design, build and test a robot within six weeks. At the competition, robots may be required to climb a ladder, shoot a basketball or balance on a see-saw.

“It is as close to real-world engineering as a student can get,” says Wanda McLocklin, Barrow County Extension Coordinator.

"The ultimate goal of robotics education," according to McLocklin, “is to make science, engineering and technology engaging and meaningful in the lives of middle and high school students.

Skills in these areas are increasingly necessary to compete in the current job market and will be “the jobs of the future,” she adds.