Youth build Tooth Brush Robots to solve environmental issues

PIERCE COUNTY — More than 1,000 Pierce County youth will join millions of students across the country Oct. 10 to participate in the 4-H Eco-Bot Challenge experiment. Youth will discover how real life engineers use robots to help solve environmental problems.

Students will build an Eco-Bot from a toothbrush head, small motor, and watch battery to clean up a hypothetical environmental spill on the beach. In this experiment, rice simulates a toxic spill and students test their engineering skills to see how well their Eco-Bot contains and cleans up the spill.

Stephon, age 7, built a containment area for his Eco-Bot using tape, straws, cups, and paper. “The Eco-Bot moves really fast. I had fun building a wall so it would stay in one area. It swept up the rice and cleaned the beach,” he said. “Robots are important to keep fish and animals safe.  They help keep people safe from bad stuff, too.”

“This year’s experiment helps young people understand the important link between engineering, the environment, and working together to find solutions,” said Christina Murray, Washington State University Pierce County Extension 4-H Coordinator. “It gives them a taste of how this technology impacts and benefits human life today and in the future. We hope this experiment will inspire young people to discover new interests and career options in science and engineering.”

Now entering its fifth year, 4-H National Youth Science Day will again bring young people face-to-face with the challenges of today’s global economy, said Donald T. Floyd Jr., National 4-H Council president and CEO. “America faces a future of intense global competition with a startling shortage of scientists. However, with high-quality positive youth development programs like 4-H National Youth Science Day, youth are introduced to highly relevant concepts and solutions that will ensure their contributions to their communities today, and their success as global leaders tomorrow,” he said.

WSU Pierce County 4-H works with the following organizations to advance science exploration with local youth through participation in the science experiment: YMCA of Pierce County, Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, Fife Library, JBLM, Communities In Schools of Lakewood, Tacoma Nature Center, Puget Sound Educational Service District, Tacoma Daycare, Cascade Christian Schools, NE Tacoma Elementary, Daffodil Valley Elementary, McCarver Elementary, Fern Hill Elementary, Lyon Elementary, Midland Elementary, Franklin Elementary, Naches Trail, and Harbor Ridge Middle School.

About National Youth Science Day

For more than 100 years, 4-H has been at the forefront of teaching youth about science, engineering and technology. Created to combat a shortage of American young people pursuing science college majors and careers, 4-H National Youth Science Day seeks to spark an early youth interest and leadership in science.

Currently, more than 5 million young people across the nation participate in 4 H science, engineering and technology programming in topics as varied as robotics, rocketry, wind power, GPS mapping, agricultural science, film making, water quality and biofuels. And, through the One Million New Scientists, One Million New Ideas campaign, 4 H has undertaken a bold goal of engaging one million additional young people in science, engineering and technology programming by 2013. For more information on 4-H NYSD, visit

This year’s 4-H National Youth Science Day is jointly sponsored Lockheed Martin, Toyota, Donaldson Filtration Systems, and John Deere.

Pierce County 4-H

4-H National Youth Science Day

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