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  Macon County 4-H Robotics Team members are, left to right: Mason Roberts, Jack Elven, Ben Elven and Zedekiah Auten.


  Over 50 FIRST LEGO League teams converged on Elgin Community College’s campus January 22 for the FIRST LEGO League Hopper division’s state tournament. Macon County 4-H SCREAM’S FIRST LEGO League team was among the competitors and the team brought home the robot design award for Strategy and Innovation as well as finished 9th out of the 54 teams in robot performance.

     The Strategy and Innovation award recognizes a team that uses solid engineering practices and a well-developed strategy to design and build an innovative and high performing robot. FIRST LEGO League teams, under the guidance of adult coaches, identify, research and develop solutions for real-work problems. Teams must also design, build, and program a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS® Technology and then compete on a table-to playing field.

     “4-H SCREAM’s robot was designed similar to a forklift with a front attachment that moved up an down as well as left and right. This helped the robot maneuver the bridge that was part of the game,” said 4-H SCREAM’s coach Jeff Suckow. “The team was proud of the ability to drive up the bridge on the center of the tables.”

     FIRST LEGO League competitions also require teams to research an innovative solution for a problems based on the year’s theme. City Shaper was the theme this year, so problems needed to be related to public space or building in the community. 4-H SCREAM cultured various water fountains around the Decatur community and realized the immunosuppressed individuals could not use these fountains without the fear of getting sick.

      The team then came up with a solution to automate the water fountain cleaning process, so that immunosuppressed individuals would be able to use the fountains. Team members then designed a prototype UVC disinfecting flashlight to test their solution. Accompanying the younger team members to the state tournament were members of FIRST Tech Challenge team Super Scream Bros. #14204, who not only supported the younger team but also volunteered as table re-setters during the day. The 4-H program is provided through University of Illinois Extension and is open to youth ages 8 to 18.

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