UConn 4-H

Cubes in Space: UConn 4-H Robotics Program

Granby 4-H members in front of rocket launchUConn 4-H is the youth development program of UConn Extension. 4-H is a community of over 6 million young people across America who are learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), leadership, citizenship and life skills through their 4-H project work. 4-H provides youth with the opportunity to develop lifelong skills including civic engagement and healthy living.

Using STEM concepts, 4-H members develop, design, and practice their robotic skills through various local, regional, and national programs. In addition, the 4-H’ers maintain engineering journals of their robot design process in order to develop and strengthen their record keeping skills. Participants also demonstrate and hone their public speaking and research skills through competitions and presentations.

Members implement the values of the 4-H motto to Make the Best Better by improving their robot after practice and competition sessions.

Eight youth from the Granby 4-H Club along with their leader, Rachael Manzer, a UConn 4-H volunteer, successfully launched three experiments into space on a NASA rocket in 2018. Manzer is the STEM coach at the Winchster Public Schools, and leads youth in three robotics project areas as part of the 4-H curriculum.

Cubes in SpaceTM is a global competition designed to help students ages 11-18 develop curiosity, and logical and methodical thought. Selected participants launch experiments into space annually at no cost to the participants. The program is managed by idoodledu inc., and collaborates with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility, NASA Langley Research Center, and the Colorado Space Grant Consortium.

It took the Granby 4-Hers approximately four months to write their experimental proposals based on their interest, long hours of research, and thinking. These proposals were then submitted to Cubes in SpaceTM where experts reviewed all applications. After making it through the first round, 4-Hers answered questions, revised their proposals, and resubmitted them for a second review.

4-H members note that they have benefited from participating in the 4-H Robotics Program by gaining and enhancing their skills; for example, in the area of spatial geometry or in programming using the C language. Also, these experiences have provided opportunities for them to demonstrate and strengthen their teamwork and cooperation skills in preparation for their future education and careers.

Final decisions were made after months of waiting. All three Granby 4-H proposals were selected as part of the 80 experiments chosen from the 450 total proposals submitted by youth from the U.S. and international locations.

The three experiments from the Granby 4-H Club included “Bees in Space” where honeycombs were launched, “Rubber Bands in Space,” and “Gallium in Space,” all of which were proposed by the 4-Hers themselves.

Bees in Space

The “Bees in Space” experiment studied if honeycomb changes shape during flight. Club members took pieces of honeycomb from the club bee hive to design the experiment. The research question was: Will
the honeycomb change its shape during a flight to space?

When colonizing a planet, a constant food source is necessary. Bees are necessary for pollinating plants which creates food and oxygen. When bees were first sent to space in 2009, the bee eggs did not hatch and the bees died. The bees likely used all their energy on the hive. To help the bees

preserve their energy, the team sent up a honeycomb to eliminate the need to build one. This experiment looks at if the honey- comb shape is strong enough to withstand a flight on a rocket.

Rubber Bands in Space

The “Rubber Bands in Space” group evaluated how rubber bands are affected by a microgravity environment by creat- ing a rubber band ball. Rubber bands are used by astronauts as part of their exercise equipment. This team hypothesized that if the rubber band ball is exposed to a micro- gravity environment, then the rubber bands will change and no longer be as effective or work at all.

They believed the temperature on the rocket space flight would melt the elastics together slightly, cool back down, and cause them to dry. The team thought the rubber band ball may not bounce as high as it did before, and it may bounce at dif- ferent angles instead of just straight up and down, especially if it melts.

Gallium in Space

Gallium is a post transition metal. What is so unique about this metal is that it has a melting point of 29.77 degrees Celsius (85.586 F). Gallium doesn’t occur as pure Gallium in nature, but as a compound with other metals. These compounds are

often used as semi and superconductors. On its own, gallium is a semiconductor. Gallium’s most similar alloys are used in LEDs and diode lasers.

Gallium is a soft metal and might change shape due to motions during space flight. If gallium doesn’t change shape,
it may be one of the best conductors of electricity used in space. The team hypothesized that gallium would change shape during space flight, due to heat when exit- ing the atmosphere.

All participants of the 80 selected experiments were invited for the launch at NASA Wallops Center in Virginia where they presented their experiments to an audience of 300 people that included NASA and Cubes in SpaceTM officials, other participants, teachers, sponsors, and family members.

Members gained valuable experiences through participating in the Cubes in SpaceTM project. 4-Hers learned the importance of working together, how 4-H and STEM fit together, and learned the process of doing research. The experience provided the Granby 4-H members with the opportunity to practice problem solving skills, answer their own questions, embrace their curiosity, and gain valuable experience in the world of STEM.

Article by Jen Cushman

4-H Robotics Team Receives Creativity Award

In April, the Power Surge 4-H Robotics team from Fairfield County was in Maine for a FIRST Robotics Competition. Here is a recap of their competition:

4-H Power Surge Robotics team robot from Fairfield County climbing during a robotics competition.
The robot climbing during competition.

“Things went well in Maine, but we got knocked out in the quarterfinals on our third match for best two out of three.

We were scoring “Hatch” pieces well with a guaranteed climb in every match during qualifications, but we had tough losses by just a few points, and ended up 22 out of 31. However, our scoring and defensive ability was recognized enough to be selected to join a three team alliance to go to eliminations.

In the quarterfinals we had to play defense to shut down the scoring of the second ranked alliance, and got roughed up enough to damage our climber mechanism. With that damage, we just missed our second win to move on to semifinals.

The high honor of the competition was that we won the “Creativity” award for robot design. This really energized the team to not only be recognized for a unique and effective robot climbing design, but also the ability of the students to effectively communicate the strategy and design process to the judges.

The students incorporated the lessons of 4-H into their discussions with the judges and it was reflected in the announcement of the team as the winner of the Creativity award.

Looking back on where we came from, having no shop and equipment in December, this has really been a miracle season to get to where we are and be recognized with an award. We now have a great foundation to really develop the team further next year. We plan to have training classes for the students over the summer in electronics and programming to get a jump on more advanced control techniques for next year.

We will continue competing in post season competitions around New England in late spring and the fall, to give the younger students some competition driving experience. New students can learn from the seniors’ competition experience before they graduate.

Now that the serious competition is over we are concentrating on “catching up” on our 4-H commitment.  Members will be getting their binders up to date etc.

Thank you again to the UConn 4-H – Fairfield County program for all your support. Below are a couple of links that FIRST posted on their sites (Twitter and Instagram) because our design was so unique.”

Dan Biron, Volunteer Leader

Power Surge 4-H Robotics

https://twitter.com/FRCTeams/status/1114295538701209600?s=03

https://www.instagram.com/p/BwDb5JogDH8/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=4v8av22r4hg8

We Want You to Volunteer with UConn 4-H

Erinn Hines
Erinn Hines with two 4-H members.

Do you enjoy working with children? Want to share your time and talents with young people in the community? Like to have fun, learn new skills and make a difference? Then being a 4-H volunteer is for you!

4-H volunteers play a significant role in helping youth to reach their potential. As a volunteer, you will help youth in your group learn leadership, citizenship and life skills through projects and activities. If you have a hobby or interest you would like to share with young people such as photography, leadership, animals, plants, fishing, drama, community service, computers and technology, woodworking, fashion design, arts and crafts, rocketry and more, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer.

Start volunteering today by going to https://bit.ly/2Oj4TkU

4-H First Robotics Experience

By Alexis Nadeau, Alyssa Newell, Emmit Starkweather

Robotics team after winning competition
Team 3555 receiving the first place award at the 2018 Bay State Brawl competition.

Innovation is a modernly essential pillar to human development and growth into the future. It is this innovative thinking that the organization For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology or FIRST seeks to harness within adolescents and young adults. Focusing on the fields of STEM — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics –FIRST wishes to fuel interests in the younger generations.

State of the art organizations such as the First Robotics Program help to assist students in grades 9-12 with learning the difficult but necessary skills that shall be required to continue the technological growth and innovation which our era depends. Some of the careers that require these skills are mechanical design, electrical engineering, software engineering, and manufacturing. Certain teams in the first robotics program, such as ours (Team 3555) are 4-H clubs.

“My experience on the 4-H First Robotics Team has provided me with access to more knowledge than I was able to acquire previously, and has introduced me to better overall materials than I would have access to otherwise,” club member Nick Mercado said.

The way the club works is that students are allotted a time known as a build season, where each team is given six weeks to build a robot that will be used to compete in various competitions across that state. Each branch of our team does different tasks and works together with the other parts of the team in order to build a robot in a fast and efficient way. For example, the mechanical design people work on the technical sketches of the different components of the robot, while the electrical engineering people work on the wiring and the electrical boards.

While these two branches do very different things, they have to cooperate to make sure that all of the electrical components will be able to fit and work on the mechanical parts. Likewise, people operating in the software engineering branch have to program the robot so that it moves, which requires significant communication with people in the electrical and design branch. This is because the programmers need to know the electronic components that will be used in order to program them correctly, and they need to know the design of the robot, so that it is programmed in a way that allows it to move smoothly and effectively.

After the six weeks, our robot is taken out to various competitions around the state where it competes with other teams in doing certain tasks, such as lifting up boxes and putting them on levers, climbing up walls, or shooting balls at specific targets. The adrenaline rush that is experienced is wild, as the arena is constantly filled with the passion and excitement that is elicited by the thrill that comes with having the crowd at the competitions.

“Both optimists and pessimists have a place in the world. The optimist will build the robot, and the pessimists will bring the safety bucket,” club member Sam Secondo said about the challenge.

The competitions offer many new learning experiences for those who join the 4-H First Robotics Team. Students work under stress, cooperate with other teams, manage safety, show leadership, act graciously, show professionalism, demonstrate quick thinking, and take quick action, all of which are unquestionably valued by the 4-H program. Last year, the team had performed in two out off-season events: Bay State Brawl and the Where Is Wolcott.

“Without the 4-H First robotics program, I wouldn’t know even half of the information about engineering and mechanical design that I currently know,” said club member Alexis Nadeau.

Many people in today’s era strive to learn the new skills that drive the engineering world, and the 4-H First Robotics Program gives students the opportunity to be part of a team that teaches the fundamentals of engineering.

Support 4-H Through Your Local Tractor Supply and JOANN Stores

paper clover graphic

Tractor Supply and JOANN stores across the country are supporting 4-H this spring through their Clovers for Kids and Paper Clover campaigns.  From March 1st to April 30th JOANN Stores nationwide will ask their customers to donate towards the 4-H Program through their Clovers for Kids Campaign which is in its second year of operation.  Both $1 and $4 donations are available.  Purchase of a $4 donation comes with a $4 off a future purchase coupon.  In addition, JOANN wants to support individual 4-H’ers involvement by providing a rewards card for 4-H members, leaders, staff and parents.  The rewards card gives holders 15% off JOANN graphictheir purchase every day.

Since it began in 2010, the partnership between Tractor Supply and 4-H has generated more than $11,000,000 nationwide in essential funding.  The spring promotion will commence on March 27 and run through April 7.  Tractor Supply customers can participate in the 2019 spring campaign by purchasing paper clovers for $1 or more at checkout.

In Connecticut Tractor Supply funds provide exciting opportunities for 4-H members to attend national 4-H leadership conferences such as National 4-H Congress and Citizenship Washington Focus.  Over 50 youth will benefit from these funds this year.  The JoAnn’s campaign provides support for the 4-H Expressive Arts Day along with other 4-H activities.  Visit your local Tractor Supply and JOANN stores this spring to ensure more kids get the chance to participate in hands-on 4-H programs.

My 4-H Story: Chelsea Weimer

Chelsea at the 4-H fair Chelsea with her dog Chelsea with her dog

The term “4-H” was an organization that I had heard about for many years.  I knew the name, but I didn’t really know what it was. Around five years ago my mom saw an advertisement for a 4-H club called Bad to the Bone.  This club showed dogs. I decided to go to a meeting and at least see what it was about. I went, and from then on, I have been all about 4-H. Two years after I started 4-H I made a hard decision to switch to another club, Great Goats and More.  This is where my 4-H journey really started.

In this club I was exposed to so much more and I got to know about all the other events in 4-H, such as the Food and Nutrition show, public speaking, and state-wide events.  I knew that other clubs were organized differently than ours was, but I soon realized the clubs had a president and other officers. I was not new to Robert’s rules as I was in the National Junior Honor Society at my school.  These last few years that I have been in 4-H have impacted my life very much. I always knew that I had leadership qualities, but I have gained more leadership qualities, I have built lifelong friendships, I have had so much fun, and made so many lifelong memories.  I can speak in front of people. I speak clearly and loudly. I have grown as a person, I am more confident.

In 4-H you are given many chances to lead a group.  These opportunities have improved my leadership abilities a lot.  I can use what I have learned and experienced not only in 4-H but also in my life.  I have used what I learned in 4-H to be a better leader. I learned to listen to people.  Since my leadership and citizenship abilities have grown I have been elected to positions that I know I would not have reached otherwise.  I have learned to reach out to the quiet members and get them involved in making club decisions. I have also been able to go to programs I never thought possible like the Teen Leadership Forum.  The only problem was that I wanted to grow my leadership abilities but there were not many more events in my state I was interested in where I could do this. So, I thought back and realized I could apply for this trip.  Although I consider myself a pretty good leader there are things that I could improve. I need to work on delegating jobs. I normally get very stressed out when I plan larger events. I have realized that when I delegate jobs my stress level reduces.  I used to be not very good about listening to other’s opinions and acting on them. Through a lot of practice I have gotten much better at this.

When I first joined Great Goats and More I knew that I wanted to be an officer.  I knew that I could not do that right away. I needed to prove to my new club that I could do it.  So, I set little goals like attending all meetings, volunteering for different activities, volunteering for different games, helping the younger kids get involved and attending other 4-H events.  By reaching those goals I was elected vice president in that club and secretary in Canine Commanders.

4-H has impacted my life in many ways.  I have learned to speak out, voice my opinion, to acknowledge every person has a different personality and to work among them.  I have also learned to show my dog, better take care of my dog, and I have learned many things about other animals that I did not know.  Before I started 4-H, I was not someone who always spoke out and expressed their opinion. I only did this sometimes; now I express my opinion whenever I think it is necessary or helpful.  I also do this very kindly. I also learned that everyone has a different personality and sometimes people clash because of this. Through 4-H, I have learned to lead meetings and events successfully without a clash breaking out.  Five years ago, I knew that showing dogs existed, but I never really thought that I could do it. When I started 4-H I learned to show my dog. Together my dog, Petey and I have placed multiple events, and even went to the Big E! Through showing my dog, I have learned to better take care of him such as trimming the fur under his paws and brushing his teeth more often.  Since I started to go to Great Goats and More meetings I have learned that yak fur is called fiber and how to show rabbits.

The skills, knowledge, and leadership that I learn in 4-H will and have benefitted me and others.  I have learned several skills. One being to take better care of animals especially dogs. I am more responsible in feeding, exercising and grooming my dog.  When I have a family, I will be able to take extremely good care of the family pets and teach the other members to do so as well. I have gained a lot of knowledge in 4-H.  I have learned how to be respectful towards others, listen to others and I have learned from my leaders how to handle the different personalities people have. I have also learned that staying true to your values and morals is extremely important.  If people don’t like you or don’t appreciate you for these morals than that’s okay. I have become a leader, not a follower. I can make decisions for myself and not give in to peer pressure. As a leader, I have learned that every situation varies and must be handled differently.   This has helped to prepare me for different experiences that I may come to in my life outside of 4-H.

Overall in the last four to five years; 4-H has been a large part of my life.  I would not be the person I am today and would not be the person I will be tomorrow.  4-H has affected every aspect of my life from my personality, morals, friends, decisions and everything else.

By Chelsea Weimer

My 4-H Story: Samantha Smith

Samantha Smith with chicken

4-H has impacted my life by teaching me that even in the hard times you should hold onto your project and never let go.  4-H has also taught me how to do math. 4-H has helped me with my spelling. Through my 4-H years I have learned a lot. I have learned patience while working with my animals.  It has helped me with setting and reaching my goals. It has made it so I know how to set goals that I can reach in a set time. The rewards that I have gotten out of my 4-H years are knowing how to deal with all sorts of different people.  I have also learned a lot from being president in my club. I have learned how to deal with adults and how to talk respectfully to them. I have learned that people like to have fun and I want to better learn how to incorporate more fun into our meetings to hopefully keep everyone involved.  The rewards I got from my citizenship and leadership opportunities are wisdom, understanding, and knowledge on how to deal with all sorts of people. I think I need more experience in being a leader to expound on my leadership skills. Some of the problems that I have experienced from these experiences are trying to keep the other members of my club interested in the meetings and getting people to come to the bake sales and the community services that the club does.  I hope that by going on this trip I can learn how to better myself in these areas so the club will be more profitable for our community. I hope that the experiences I have had in 4-H and the ones to come will help me with getting in to the college that I want to go to, and I hope they will help me get a job when I am ready to get one. Sure not all my 4-H experiences have been good ones, but I have learned from all of them. I hope to learn from the ones I get in the future.

By Samantha Smith

My 4-H Story: Olivia Hall

When I joined 4-H 5 years ago, I thought that I would just be learning about animals.  I had no idea that I would learn leadership, citizenship and public speaking skills that I would apply to many situations both in and out of 4-H.  I never imagined that when I joined 4-H, I would meet some of the best people in the world that would help me to grow as a leader in my community.

Through 4-H, I have set many goals related to my project and my community.  I used to think that because I had a goal, I had to achieve it, even if it was a minor goal.  4-H has taught me that I didn’t have to achieve my goal; as long as I tried my hardest, I was still achieving something, even if it wasn’t what I hoped for.  I would achieve the ability to say “Congratulations” to someone when they won the prize that I set as my goal. I would achieve the ability to say “I’ll try again next year”, when I didn’t get voted into the officer position that I hoped for.  Through 4-H I learned that no matter what I set as my goal, I will attain something.

Throughout my 4-H career, I have had many rewarding experiences, such as becoming involved in my community.  Through my club, I have raised funds for the Torrington Police Department for a K-9 bullet-proof vest. I have also assisted my club in raising money so that a veteran was able to get a service dog.  We also raised money for a shade awning at a local pound. It has been very rewarding to see a change in my community that I helped to facilitate. Another rewarding 4-H experience was when I ran for a leadership position on my county’s Fair Association committee.  I ran for the position of publicity chair, and was elected! I am enjoying having a role in planning and promoting this year’s 4-H fair. This has enabled me to meet people and network in my community.

After becoming active in my community, my biggest challenge has been the realization that 4-H is not widely known.  While venturing out into my community, I have had the opportunity to educate people about 4-H. By participating in the Litchfield County Ad Campaign, I have raised funds and helped raise awareness about 4-H and the opportunities that it provides to youth.

By Olivia Hall

Job Openings with UConn Extension

food, health and sustainability venn diagram

We have jobs open at Jobs.UConn.edu – an Assistant Extension Educator with UConn 4-H based in Torrington, an Assistant Extension Educator in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, and a Research Assistant 2 – Connecticut Farm To School Specialist based in Vernon. All positions will have statewide responsibilities. Apply today, applications are being reviewed on a rolling basis.

My 4-H Story: Maria Grillo

Maria Grillo

4-H has, in a sentence, taught me how to be myself and to tap into my full potential.  I was once a quiet kid who desperately wanted to speak out and have an impact but didn’t know how.  Now, I am a determined, confident young adult who can be heard the minute I walk into a room. I’ve come to realize that I love management and situations that involve directing or engaging others, especially to the goal of helping someone or having a positive impact.  My management skills have been built up through 4-H, during the many situations wherein I was responsible for leading a group. Leading camp activities has taught me quite a bit about flexibility in particular, as last-minute situations that need quick thinking to fix come up often at camp.

I attribute many of my successes thus far in life to 4-H.  This fall, I will be attending Yale University, and am certain that the time I spent with 4-H over the last several years contributed directly to my acceptance to that prestigious institution.  Indirectly, 4-H has made me the person that I am today, a person who can and will accomplish great things.

4-H has been a positive constant in my life, always there to remind me to smile.  4-H is one of the reasons that I am such a bright, shining force, dedicated to making everyone around me feel better about themselves and others.  I am passionate about self-love, especially among young people, and my 4-H experience – going to camp, meeting a wide variety of new people, discovering myself – is the reason that I can have such confidence.  4-H not only allowed me to see how widespread self-confidence issues are among teenagers and children by putting me in a situation where I became very close to so many kids, it also showed me that I was worthy of growing and becoming more self-assured.

My mother has been sending children to 4-H camp for twenty years.  I’ve attended for eleven years, and my siblings attended before me.  Every member of my family knows and sees the growth of children who experience 4-H.  Many of my relatives cannot believe how much I have changed in the last few years alone, and I always attribute it to 4-H.  As someone who wishes to someday work in public service, I know that the leadership, management and problem-solving skills that I have attained through my 4-H club will define me as an adult.  I cannot begin to express how grateful I am to 4-H for making me the person I am today, or how certain I am that I want to continue being an active participant in 4-H for as long as possible.

By Maria Grillo