Grant County 4-H members formed an aquatic robotics team and designed and built an ROV (remotely operated vehicle). Members are: Benett Street, Marion Mischel, Noah Steinlicht, Dylan Bohn, Logan Meyer, William Karels, and Isaac Sousa. They are guided by 4-H Extension Educator Sara Koepke.
The group is the first 4-H group in South Dakota to develop an Aquatic Robotics program. The program, which began in November, will serve as a pilot for other counties in the state. The team is developing the camera robot to research curly pond weed, zebra mussels, and other invasive water species which are spreading in area lakes.
“This team has quite a vision,” stated Koepke. “The overall goal is to promote water safety and work together in an effort to clean the lakes.”
The group gained information from Game, Fish and Parks Conservation Officer, Jamie Pekelder, as well as through a workshop with the Minnesota 4-H program. They performed several test dives with the ROV in the Unity Square pool, Lake Farley, and Big Stone Lake. After designing and building the robot, they tweaked its camera positioning, solved buoyancy issues, and made changes with each testing to improve readings and gain valuable insight.
The robotics team presented their project at the Big Sioux Water Festival in Brookings in May. They also plan to showcase it at the South Dakota State Fair in September.