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Stephanie Raper
In the Loop Editor

GUES takes part in Eco-Bot Challenge

On October 10, 2012, millions of young people across the nation became scientists for the day during the fifth annual 4-H National Youth Science Day (NYSD). Students at Grenada Upper Elementary School participated in this event in the Discovery Lab.  This is the third year that the Discovery Lab has taken part in the national experiment.  NYSD is the premier national rallying event for 4-H Science year-round programming.  It brings together thousands of youth, volunteers and educators from the nation’s 111 land-grant colleges and universities to simultaneously complete the National Science Experiment.  The National Science Experiment 4-H Eco-Bot Challenge is an engaging engineering design experiment that provides participants the opportunity to program an autonomous robot to clean up a simulated environmental spill — a mission that in real life would be too difficult or dangerous for humans to carry out. This challenge was a great addition to the Discovery Lab with the excitement of Curiosity, the mars robotic rover, being fresh on the minds of the students at GUES. The students have learned all about Curiosity, and its goal and mission on the planet Mars.

Robots have a huge impact on society and affect our lives every day.  We use robots to assemble cars, manufacture cookies and create computer parts. They can be programmed to carry out dangerous missions or complete repetitive, boring chores — even give us directions when we are lost! Exposing students of all ages to robotics through classroom and science projects can help them experience first-hand how robots and robotic technology works.  It can help them discover new interests and career options, plus give them a taste of how this technology impacts and benefits human life today and in the future.

Exploring the capabilities and applications of robots offers a glimpse into the future of science, technology, engineering and math.  It gives youth an opportunity to put inquiry-science techniques into practice and grow more familiar with the engineering design process.  Participants will experience firsthand what it’s like to work with the process tools scientists and engineers use each and every day to solve real world problems.

This event for the students at GUES was sponsored through the Mississippi State Extension Service and Grenada County 4H.  “Jan Walton serves as the local agent for Grenada County and is always a wonderful resource for the teachers here in Grenada,” stated Melody Shaw, Discovery Lab Director.  “We are so thankful to have her and the MSU Extension Service actively involved in educating our children.”

***Thanks to Melody Shaw, GUES Discovery Lab Director for contributing this article.