Tiny inventions

Class inspires youths to think science — build robots

Photo by Mild Du Pierce Ascheman works on his Club Invention project as Kellen Lalaem takes a peek from behind during a recent 4-H sponsored Club Invention class. Below, Lincoln Geurts, left and Anthony Enga test their inventions on the floor.

MARSHALL — The machines that Club Invention students put together were tiny — about the size of toy cars. But there was something special about the little robots. They could drive themselves, using light sensors to find their way around.

In July, area youth in Club Invention got some hands-on learning about transportation technology.

“The kids learned about how sensors work,” said Sam Jens, Lyon County 4-H youth development educator.

After building their “Optibots,” they put them to the test with obstacle courses.

Club Invention was one of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs offered this summer through Lyon County 4-H and Marshall Community Services. Jens said Club Invention was created by the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

The goal of the club is to help promote innovation and entrepreneurship. The Optibots were one part of this year’s Club Invention. The small robots are designed to sense and follow a black line on the ground, Jens said. Kids tested out whether the Optibot would follow any other colors and types of lines, and later built courses for the bots to drive through. The Optibots weren’t the only project Club Invention members worked on. In a different unit, kids took on the roles of superheroes joining a team of inventors.

“It’s a program where they go through and learn about the patent process and inventing,” Jens said. In addition to learning about engineering and inventors, Club Invention members also developed their own inventions to try and pick up slime.

Jens said this has been the second summer Club Invention was offered, and young people have enjoyed the program.

“They have great curriculum and great STEM activities,” Jens said of the program.


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