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A Macomb-based 4-H robotics club, managed and coached by three WIU faculty members, won the best project award during the recent 4-H Illinois Envirobot Challenge in Springfield, IL.
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Faculty-Advised 4-H Program Wins 'Best Project' in State Robotics Competition

April 24, 2018


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MACOMB, IL – A Macomb-based 4-H robotics club, managed and coached by three WIU faculty members, won the best project award during the recent 4-H Illinois Envirobot Challenge in Springfield, IL.

The Macomb Bots team is made up of Macomb area third-seventh graders who are advised and managed by WIU Physics Professor Kishor Kapale, and advised by his wife, Physics Lab Coordinator Aparna Kapale and Computer Science Professor George Mangalaraj. The team is sponsored by Julian Inniss, of the University of Illinois Extension program.

Students meet weekly to build and program Lego-based robots to solve world problems.

This year, the overall theme for the state contest revolved around environmental health. The robots from the Macomb 4-H club performed tasks on a playing field related to protecting the environment. In addition, the students identified an environmental health related problem and worked on a solution they developed together. Kapale said the problem the students chose was how to mitigate methane emitted by livestock.

"The team, under the leadership of (students) Atharva Kapale and Varek Venugopalan, had identified the problem and prepared the Powerpoint presentation and a script," said Kapale. "According to the comment made by the judges, 4-H Macomb Bots were the only team in the competition that had combined technical elements of a research problem with creative elements of a dramatic presentation. Their solution of proposing a company to solve the problem of eliminating methane emitted by cows also was appreciated by the judges as unique among all the presentations they saw at the competition."

Local children participating in the WIU-based program include Celena Mangalaraj, fifth grade; Atharva Kapale, fourth grade; Nidhi Kapale, seventh grade; Kyler Glaue, fifth grade; Jaydn Glaue, third grade; Henry Lauer, fifth grade and Varek Venugopalan, sixth grade.

Kapale said the team receives support from some of the children's parents, including WIU Chemistry Lab Manager Kay Tsai and Russell Glaue, instructional technology systems manager for the Center for the Application of Information Technologies (CAIT). He added that WIU Department of Physics Chair Mark S. Boley also met with the students and provided a project base and space for the team to develop their ideas.

The Macomb 4-H Club participates in two robotics competitions each year, one in the fall and one in the spring. Students meet one day each week for two hours to work on their project. The University of Illinois Extension provides funding for the Lego kits, competition registration fees and t-shirts.

For more information about 4-H robotics competitions, visit bit.ly/2BIKinm. For more information about joining the local Lego robotics club, email Kapale at KT-Kapale@wiu.edu.




Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
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