- Author: Cris L. Johnson
The 4-H teams were assigned to build and program a robot that was capable of cleaning a hypothetical environmental spill of birdseed, rice and macaroni that stood in for spill elements considered too dangerous or difficult for humans to handle. Teams were supplied masking tape, straws, string, paper cups, index cards, a toothbrush head, foam and a digital battery. Utilizing these materials they worked to fabricate tiny robot sweepers that would be able clean the mess before being swept out to an improvised ocean.
The challenge tested their imaginations, patience, skills and ingenuity as they took their contraptions through timed trial runs, making adjustments and modifications along the way. A three-second breathing period was required whenever a robot needed manhandling during a run which allowed participants a short space to react with a more considered response.
Two members from the Citrus Valley club, Allison Sim and Patrick Bello, finished first with an 87% spill removal. The 10 and 11-year old experimented by overcoming obstacles that allowed their robot, Brushie, to achieve the winning score.
Millions of youth throughout the nation participated in the 4-H National Science Experiment and the EcoBot Challenge complements the robotics and engineering programs that are a significant part of the 4-H science curriculum. Learn more about the EcoBot Challenge here.
Soils perform vital functions, and are the basis of the ecosystem. Healthy and productive soil is vital for our survival. It is an amazing resource and fascinating to learn about.
- Soil facts – definitions, career information, soil basics, glossary, and regulations for moving soils
- Painting with soil – Jan Lang’s images of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
- 10 key messages to understanding soils
- Find out about your state’s soil
- Links for students and teachers – available for grades K-6, 7-12, and college level
- Videos and webinars
- Dig It! The Secrets of Soil
- NRCS photo gallery – natural resource and conservation related photos from across the United States
- And more
The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) works extensively with the nation’s farmers and ranchers to protect soil, water, air, plant, and animal resources while meeting production goals.
Working with agricultural producers allows NRCS to promote conservation practices approximately 1.4 billion acres of the privately held land in the United States. About 92 million acres of land in our country is tended by home gardeners. In an effort to promote conservation on these lands, NRCS has partnered with other organizations to produce, Backyard Conservation: Bringing Conservation From the Countryside to Your Backyard.
This full-color and informative online resource highlights 10 conservation activities that can be used in your backyard, shared spaces, and public places too.
- Trees add beauty and so much more.
- Trees, shrubs, and other plants can provide homes and food for wildlife.
- A backyard pond will likely become the focal point for all your backyard conservation.
- Wetlands filter excess nutrients, chemicals, and sediment and provide habitat for a host of interesting creatures.
- Composting turns household wastes into valuable fertilizer.
- Mulching cools, protects, and enriches the soil.
- Apply only those nutrients the plants can use. (See our previous post on soil test kits to help you get accurate test results.)
- Terracing makes flower and vegetable gardening possible on steep slopes.
- Drip irrigation and other water conservation practices can save water and money.
- Early detection and treatment of pests means a healthier growing environment.
Water is essential to life. Clean water supplies require the efforts and cooperation of many. It is our responsibility to learn about this life sustaining natural resource, and take steps to ensure our supply is safe to drink.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an extensive collection of resources to educate the public about drinking water. Titled, Protect Your Drinking Water for Life readers have many topics to explore and a variety to learn about their water supply and takes steps to protect it.
- Drinking water
- Education & training
- Grants & funding
- Laws & regulations
- Our waters
- Pollution prevention & control
- Resources & performance
- Science & technology
- Water infrastructure
- What can you do?
- Adopt your watershed
- After the storm
- Emergency preparedness
- Good Samaritan
- Nonpoint source toolbox
- Pollution prevention
- Protect your health
- Protecting drinking water
- Volunteer monitoring
- Water efficiency
There is also a collection of resources designed for youth, which includes games and activities, and curriculum for teachers.
Dedicated to advancing innovation in sustainable agriculture, SARE has many resources and learning opportunities available. At their Learning Center website you will find links to handbooks, bulletins, online courses, fact sheets, videos, newsletters, and more. Hardcopy resources can be ordered through the SARE WebStore. All online resources are available at no cost.
- Animal Production
- Community Development
- Crop Production
- Education & Training
- Energy Conservation & Renewable Energy
- For consumers
- Integrated Systems
- Natural Resources/Environment
- Pest Management
- Quality of Life
- Soil Management
- Specialty Crops
- Value Added Products