4-H Robotics Team advances to state competition

| January 24, 2017

COSHOCTON – Teamwork has propelled Coshocton’s 4-H Robotics Team, Tech Support, all the way to the state tournament in its first year of competition in the FIRST Lego League (FLL).

“It’s really been a group effort because we’ve put our individual talents together,” said Lucian Brink, who is one of four area students on the team. “We wouldn’t have our robot if it wasn’t for Duncan, the girls have the public speaking down and I know a little bit about programming.”

The group, organized by 4-H Program Assistant Phil Goerig, includes Brink, Duncan Martin, sisters Alexandria and Avril Arnold and Martin’s father Steve who was recruited to help coach the team.

“We wouldn’t have done as well as we did without Steve,” Goerig said. “He has a computer background and is a great coach.”

The team started working together in August to prepare for the three areas of competition.

“We’ve been meeting two times a week and sometimes on weekends for probably six hours a week,” Goerig said.

The first part of the competition is the robotics game where they have two and a half minutes to complete as many missions on their table as possible with each being worth a certain number of points.

“We designed the robot and programmed it to do the missions,” Goerig said. “You have to strategize though because you can’t get them all done. The most you can score is 32 points and that’s if you can hang your robot on a wall. Not a lot have been able to do that, but we have.”

The second part of the competition is to present a project connected to the year’s theme. This year’s theme is Animal Allies and Coshocton’s group came up with the idea of having two way screens at zoos to help anxious animals.

“They would go in zoo enclosures and one side would be like the animal’s habitat and the other would make them still visible to the public,” Goerig said. “This way people could still view them and the animals would still feel like they were in their natural habitat and be less anxious. They had to do a lot of research and ask professionals questions so it could be a possible real world solution.”

The five minute presentations could be completed in a variety of ways and the students decided to do a skit.

“It’s entertaining and still explains the solution,” Goerig said.

Steve said for the presentation parts of the competition the students compete against a set standard.

“It’s kind of like a science fair where you have to show your problem solving skills,” he said.

Teams that excel with their presentations could win a FIRST Global Innovation Award.

“Those who receive this get a grant to help have their idea developed,” Goerig said.

Part three of the competition involves the team explaining how it incorporates the FLL core values, such as being gracious competitors, respectful of other teams and being cooperative, into their efforts.

Goerig said their first competition was on Dec. 17 at the FLL Regional Qualifier at Licking Valley Elementary. There were 12 teams at this event and Coshocton placed third and advanced to the district qualifier on Jan. 7 at OSU Newark.

“There were 16 teams there from all over Central Ohio and we finished in the top six to move on to the Ohio FIRST Lego League State Championship,” Goerig said. “There will be about 60 teams there and we feel very fortunate to make it. It’s been a pleasant surprise to make it this far in our first year. Seeing the kids excited makes it all worth it. The whole point of all this has been creating a fun STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activity for youth in Coshocton County.”

The state competition is Feb. 4-5 at Wright State University in Dayton. If the team places in the top five at the state competition they can move on to the national tournament and from there teams can advance to the global tournament.

“There are kids in Europe, Africa, Asia and all over working on the same missions and same projects as our kids,” Goerig said. “I’d love for us to be able to have multiple FIRST Lego League teams in the county or even have a team at each school.

He originally ventured into the 4-H Robotics world with an afterschool program for River View students and then wrote and received a grant from the Coshocton County 4-H Endowment to start the FIRST Lego League team. Goerig also received grant funding to get updated equipment for the students to use next year. Since the 4-H season starts after the FLL season ends, the equipment will be available for 4-H youth to use as a project. He also is planning on having another after school program at Warsaw Elementary before the school year is over.

Duncan worked with Goerig before and was happy to be part of the first robotics team.

“I have a lot of Legos and have always loved them so I thought being able to build a Lego robot was very interesting,” Duncan said.

He believes their success is a result of all the time they’ve put into preparing for competitions.

“We’d say we were going to practice from say 5 to 7 p.m., but before we knew it we’d be heading to Subway at nine o’clock,” Duncan said.

Goerig would love to start a 4-H STEM Club and do more with robotics, but needs more volunteers to take this area of learning to the next level. Anyone with an interest in STEM who would like to volunteer to work with area youth is encouraged to contact Goerig at the OSU Extension Office, 724 S. Seventh St., Room 110 or call 740-622-2265. To see videos of Coshocton 4-H Robotics Team, Tech Support, in action, visit and like their Facebook page, Coshocton County 4-H.

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About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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