Robotics challenge injects technology into 4-H’s traditional ag program at Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo
Twenty agricultural robotics teams used their brain power to create robots that performed tasks from riding up a ramp and holding for two seconds to dropping ping-pong balls into a basket.
Tamra McGaughy, a Grayson County 4-H and youth development agent, grew up as a student of the development and education organization, and has been with the group for 20 years. She, alongside 40 judges, oversaw the agricultural robotics challenge Jan. 20 at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.
“It made a huge impact on me, and I enjoyed the opportunities I got as a child,” McGaughy said. “The biggest thing is developing interpersonal skills because they have to work with a team, they have to come up with the design, they have to code it. We want them to learn those engineering components.”
This is the third time the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo included the agricultural robotics challenge in its lineup, McGaughy said.
“4-H was founded in traditional agriculture. That’s just our roots of where we came from — to do research-based education, get it out into the community and make sure we’re producing better food, better fiber using more efficient ways,” McGaughy said.
The organization makes it a point to teach participants about the urban and rural sectors, McGaughy said. Children learn about the rural aspects of agriculture like farming, but they also learn about the technology involved in advancing agriculture.
“It benefits both sectors when you’re bringing kids that have never seen a farm or know nothing about technology to the table,” McGaughy said. “You’re bringing those little kids into technology, and they may not even have good cell service in their community.”
The challengers had one-and-a-half hours to build their robots, then compete against each other in completing tasks. The top five teams moved onto the final round and the winner’s ceremony was held in the evening.
Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.