4-H Robotics Teams Receive Support from Constellation
Young members of 46 robotics teams in Nebraska are getting a little extra energy this year from a long-time supporter of 4-H and FFA in the state.
For years, Constellation—a natural gas supplier—has been a strong supporter of 4-H and FFA in the 60 Nebraska counties it serves, to the tune of more than $230,000 contributed since 2012, when the company began participating in the Choice Gas program in the state.
This year, Constellation doubled down on its support for Nebraska youth by providing additional funding to support teams from those 60 counties participating in the FIRST® LEGO® League robotics competition through Nebraska 4-H.
FIRST® LEGO® League introduces students in Grades 4 through 8 to real-world engineering challenges by building LEGO®-based robots to complete tasks on a thematic playing surface. FIRST® LEGO® League teams, guided by their imaginations and adult coaches, discover exciting career possibilities and, through the process, learn to make positive contributions to society.
Through this program led by Nebraska 4-H and the University of Nebraska, elementary and middle-school students get to:
- Design, build and program robots using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® technology
- Apply real-world math and science concepts
- Research challenges facing today’s scientists
- Learn critical thinking, team-building and presentation skills
- Participate in competitions
This program develops skills that students need to complete in a global economy—and skills that Constellation is looking for in our future employees
“This program develops skills that students need to complete in a global economy—and skills that Constellation is looking for in our future employees,” said Patti Kent, marketing manager for Constellation. “At Constellation, we are dedicated to supporting youth development and leadership in Nebraska, and we cannot think of a better way to do that than to contribute to 4-H and FFA.”
To kick off its 2019 support for the 46 FIRST® LEGO® League teams in its service area, Constellation provided each team with a package including an extra battery for their robots (a $100 value), high-quality engineering notebooks for each team member and coach, and a combination stylus/ballpoint pen for use with the engineering notebooks and to manipulate touchscreens on smartphones and tablets. Additional giveaways included Constellation caps and wristbands.
“Having that extra battery is a huge deal for these teams because the missions for the robots can be very taxing,” said Brandy Wagner, education engagement coordinator for Nebraska Extension, which is responsible for 4-H programming in the state. “Having a backup battery fully charged can be a difference-maker in a competition.”
The engineering notebooks were also a huge hit with the teams. “A major goal of this program is to help youth think and act like engineers—and you can just see how proud these young team members are to have that first-rate engineering notebook in their hands,” Wagner added.
These materials were distributed to Constellation-area teams during regional FIRST® LEGO® League competitions held in January and February across the state. In addition, Constellation picked up the cost of registration for all of its service area teams that advanced to the state competition held in mid-February at the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum in Ashland, Nebraska.
For a small county, that’s amazing to have that much support because it’s a very popular thing. We don’t have enough coaches to help our kids, so the great support that Constellation is giving us is very beneficial
“It’s really exciting that Constellation is supporting our robotics team because, in our small county, we have 22 youth participating in our junior robotics program; and we have about 39 youth participating in the FIRST® LEGO® League program,” said Melissa Mracek, coach for a team from Gordon, Nebraska. “For a small county, that’s amazing to have that much support because it’s a very popular thing. We don’t have enough coaches to help our kids, so the great support that Constellation is giving us is very beneficial.”
In addition to the materials and registration fees, Constellation is making a substantial financial contribution to the Nebraska 4-H Foundation to provide sustained funding for the robotics program, which will help cover the cost of new scoring screens, competition signage and other needs.
Constellation provides natural gas supply to homes, farm, ranches and business across 60 Nebraska counties.
Customers in the Constellation service area have the opportunity to choose Constellation as their competitive natural gas supplier during the 2019 Choice Gas Selection Period April 12-25. To discover more about Constellation, visit NebraskaGas.com.