Sunday, November 14, 2010

Kids Build Solar Cars

Two Rock 4-H SET met at Leghorns Park, Petaluma CA to build solar race cars. We had a spectacular day of beautiful sunshine (great for solar cars), and warm weather. We learned a lot about solar cars, like you need to point the solar panel into the sun for maximum speed. The "Sun E Zoom" car kit from Pitsco was a fun solar car to build. The solar panel was high quality and they included several different gears to experiment with.

Monday, October 4, 2010

2010 4-H National Youth Science Day

Two Rock 4-H held its 2010 National Youth Science Day event in Walnut Park, Petaluma CA on October 2. Many thanks to all the Two Rock 4-H kids and parents who helped to make this event a rousing success. We had three activities for the public to participate in: The CO2 "Turtlebot", CO2 experiments and a demonstration of solar and wind energy projects.

Our CO2 Turtlebot worked great and kids had a great time trying to maximize their CO2 output by holding their breath then signing the results as drawn by the Lego NXT robot.
Special thanks to Brian Davis of the NXT Step for his support in helping us build and program our Lego robot. Using the power of the Internet for collaboration, we conserved resources in this project. and many thanks to John Melville at Vernier Software & Technology who provided us guidance on how to connect their CO2 sensor to our robot.

We had many kids try the 4-H2O experiment and kids really got the concept of the effects of CO2 in water and the air. Some kids found that increasing the amount of CO2 in the plastic bags led to "explosive results", much to the amazement of onlookers.

We also had a chance to test some of our solar model cars as part of our 2010-11 4-H project activities. Some cars worked better than others, with the overall winner being the easy to build "Solar Grasshopper". This was the first time Two Rock 4-H had done a science event like this and I am very pleased for all the support and encouragement we had from our club and the community.

Friday, September 24, 2010

4-H Foundation BBQ Fundraiser a Success

The 4-H Foundation Fundraiser “Make a Difference For Our Future Leaders” was truly a success!! A beautiful evening at Saralee’s Vineyard and Richards Grove with lots of 4-H youth members volunteering proved to be yet another successful year for the BBQ. Two Rock 4-H SET project leader and his family demonstrated several of the projects we will be working on in the 2010-11 season.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Demo of the CO2 Turtlebot

We tested the CO2 "Turtlebot" - a carbon dioxide sensing robot made from Legos Mindstorms. The Turtlebot reads the CO2 level from a sample in the air, then draws the results on a long sheet of paper. The end result is a histogram graph of CO2 measurents which resemble blades of grass.

The Two Rock 4-H club will be showing its Turtlebot and many other technology projects on October 2, 1-5 PM during the National Youth Science Day in Walnut Park, Petaluma CA.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

2010 4-H National Youth Science Day

On Saturday, October 2, 1 PM - 5 PM, come join Two Rock 4-H Club Primary Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) project as we participate in the National Youth Science Day. This event will be held at Walnut Park at the Petaluma Farmers Market, 310 D Street, Petaluma, CA‎.

In 2009, the Two Rock 4-H Club started a SET project titled "Robots in the Environment". We looked at how robots interact and sense their surroundings and we made several different robots, including working underwater remotely operated vehicles.

For the 4-H NYSD event, we will have a 10' x 10' booth and have four activities related to this years theme - "Clean water, bright future"

1. The NYSD Experiment - Two Rock 4-H volunteers will lead the public through the bromothymol blue, pH experiment. We ordered 75 4-H experiment kits and will have on hand additional experiment materials as a reserve.

2. CO2 "Turtlebot" - We have a Lego's Mindstorms NXT "robot turtle" which senses CO2 levels and draws the results on a long piece of paper. the public can blow into a straw tubing and the turtlebot will measure the CO2 in their breath, then draw the results as a line on a piece of paper. Participants can sign their name on their line, at the end of the day we will have a long sheet of paper made up of hundreds of lines, each symbolic of the carbon footprint humans have on the planet.

3. "Weigh your carbon footprint" - We will have a wooden balance scale and various weights, each weight representing "tons of carbon" per capita. Participants will stack weights based on their unique carbon footprint (i.e. do they have a car, own a home, eat meat, take the car to school, etc). Next, participants will add weitghts tot he other side, each weight representing the average carbon footprint per capita from other countries. The message is that in the US, our consumption produces much more carbon than that of other countries.

4. "Eco-Robots" - 4-H kids will show off some simple robot kits that run off solar energy or wind power. Our 4-H project theme for 2010-11 is "Kid Powered Creations" and we will be building several creations that use alternative energy power (i.e. solar, wind, pneumatic, water). On October 2, we will preview some of these kits.
With help from, a Lego Mindstorms user community and Vernier Instruments, makers of environmental sensors that connect to Lego NXT, we have developed a CO2 sensing robot turtle that will measure the CO2 in your breath and draw the results on paper.

Kids will also be able to "weigh" their estimated carbon footprint and compare their results with other nations and find ways they can help reduce their carbon footprint by recycling and reusing. This is a free event to all. For more information, please contact David Bell.

Map To Walnut Park

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

First Test Sea Perch ROV

I had a chance to test our our new, larger Sea Perch ROV this June in Monterey, CA. The new ROV worked perfectly, able to maneuver 30 feet under the ocean in a protected area of the Monterey Breakwater. We were hoping to attract the attention (and video) of all the curious sea lions in the area, but they were just too quick.

Next test, we'll use a color video camera and add an underwater hydrophone to record sthe sounds of the sea. It will be exciting with our 4-H group gets back together and we can take these ROV's to Bodega Bay and beyond.

Monday, May 17, 2010

ROV's In Action - Responding to the Gulf Oil Spill

While our 4-H kids are working on understanding robotics and underwater remote vehicles and how they are used in the environment, unfortunately a real life application is playing out in the Gulf of Mexico. Here are some real-life ROV's in action as they attempt to access and contain the damage to underwater pipes 5,000 feet below sea level.

Update: BP Provides Live Video from underwater pipe leak.

Monday, May 3, 2010

"ROV In A Box" A Big Hit at 4-H Chicken-que

The Two Rock 4-H Club Primary SET Robotics group participated in the annual 4-H Chicken-que in Santa Rosa, CA. The ROV-in-a-Box Project Kit, created by Nventivity, was a big hit as the 4-H kids were enthusiastic to explain how ROV's work and show off their own ROV projects. We were able to showcase all our recent activites, including the Hexbugs, Tamiya Mechanical Walkers, Scribbler Robot (that was misbehaving) and ROV's. The merits of 4-H were prevalent as the the kids did all the interaction with the public and were enthusiastic to share their knowledge of robotics.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New Grant for Two Rock 4-H SET Project

Judy Ludovise, Sonoma County 4-H YDP Representative informed me that the Two Rock 4-H Primary SET project has received $1,400.00 in State funding for use on our robotics projects and a 4-H Primary Science Field Day to be held in October 2010.

This is great news, as it means that we'll be able to do more robotics projects as a group, and show other 4-H clubs what we have accomplished.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Meeting #4

On our fourth meeting of the Two Rock 4-H Club SET Robotics project, we took our creativity underwater by building our first underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROV). Modeled after the Marine Advanced Technology Education Center (MATE) "ROV in a box", our mini ROV's were made of PVC tubing, small electrical motors and a control box.

The kids had a great time looking at the minimal instructions that were provided and building the ROV as shown in the photos. We learned about buoyancy and the importance of properly weighting an underwater craft so it can efficiently move. We also learned about propulsion, and the need to mount motors correctly so the craft moves in a predictable way.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Meeting #3

Our third meeting for the Two Rock 4-H Club Primary SET project was a lot of fun. This meeting was all about circuits, and what a circuit is and how to make one. We started off by looking at a simple circuit with a battery, wire and a light. Then we opened up our circuit kits which each of us made a circuit game. It was great fun watching the kids experience how to "test a nine volt battery" with their tongue! OK, let's not do this at home though.

The circuit kits were a great introduction to basic robot wiring and circuitry, and the kids were then ready to tackle more complicated tasks by experimenting with the Snap Circuits kit and rover. Thanks to all the parents who helped out and assisted kids in building their projects. We could not have a great SET project without all their help.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Meeting #2

We had another great meeting yesterday for the Two Rock 4-H Club Primary SET Robotics Project. Our meeting was all about motion – how robots move and how we use things like motors, gears, axels and linkages to make motion in mechanical things. To illustrate this concept for our kids, we all got Tamiya Robocraft Series robot animals (dogs, pigs, tigers, rabbits and kangaroos).

The mechanical walkers are great little robot kits that have many, many, small parts but are all similar in construction. Kudos to the brave parents that opted to build their kits from scratch – this was a big feat to start on the end of a Sunday but we all finished.