Youth can be Soil Sleuths and ‘Dig In’ to Learn about Soil Health

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. – Dig in to the world of robotics by watching more than 20 middle-school teams showcase their programming and design skills at the 5th Annual 4-H Robotics Showcase event in Downers Grove on Saturday, March 18. In addition, young spectators can get a taste of the action by making a miniature no-till planter using a small robot.

“Come check out what 4-H Robotics is all about!” said Donna Nuger, University of Illinois Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development.  “This is a fantastic opportunity not just for our 4-H youth, but also for community members of all ages to check out the world of robotics and technology.”

For this year’s HealthBot challenge, each 4-H team is designing a robot to perform tasks related to healthy living and healthy choices. Each successfully completed task can earn points in the table event portion of the showcase. The event also will include programming, design and teamwork categories.

“We also welcome everyone to participate in the youth Ag Innovators Experience: Healthy Soils CSI,” said Nuger. “In this interactive experience, youth learn how agriculture is reducing their carbon footprint with no-till farming, and they make a miniature no-till planter using a robotic ‘bug’ and miscellaneous items. They can really be creative!”

The 2017 4-H Ag Innovators Experience Healthy Soils CSI challenges youth to understand the composition of soil and the impact tilling soil has on the entire soil ecosystem. They also will use tiny robots to find a solution on how to keep good soils from going bad. The 4-H Ag Innovators Experience program is presented by National 4-H Council and Monsanto.

All the action will begin at noon and wrap up about 4 p.m. This 2017 4-H Robotics Showcase is hosted by University of Illinois Extension in cooperation with the Downers Grove School District, the 4-H Teen Trinity Trailblazers team. Food will be available for sale at the event. O’Neill Middle School is located at 635 59th Street, Downers Grove, IL 60516.

A second local 4-H Robotics Showcase will be held April 8 in Elgin. For more information, call University of Illinois Extension at 630-584-6166 or contact Donna Nuger, 4-H Youth Development Educator, via email at If you need a reasonable accommodation, please notify at least two weeks prior to the event.

4-H Youth Development programs provide positive opportunities for youth to feel a sense of belonging, develop independence, practice generosity, and experience mastery. For more information on the 4-H program in your county, visit