Ohio State’s enCORE an inspiration to budding 4-H environmentalists

In his first year as an adviser to 4-H, Joe Boehm led two kindergartners and one second-grader, otherwise known as “Golden Explorers Cloverbuds,” to compete in a state-wide STEM focused competition earlier this month.

The Cloverbud program is a 4-H program designed to promote healthy development of children in kindergarten through third grade. This year, Boehm advised three members of the Golden Explorers Cloverbud program in the Cloverbot Challenge that took place on June 3.

Boehm says he became the designated “EnCORE Kids” Cloverbot advisor this year after having coached FIRST Lego League teams in Upper Arlington in past years.

The Cloverbot Challenge is designed for Cloverbuds across Ohio to learn how to work in teams using STEM skills. This year’s challenge required participants to build a model out of Legos around the theme of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” and to provide a poster board of their findings. For inspiration, Boehm took the Buds to tour enCORE, Ohio State’s student–designed and –built solar home.

“The first meeting that we had the Legos out, I said, ‘Let’s build a zoo.’ I wanted them to get the idea of building a model,” Boehm explains. “The next time, I introduced the idea of ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ after they had seen the enCORE house. It didn’t take much coaxing; they just went with what was in their heads.”

Boehm says many of the other student projects involved recycling cans. He knew the enCORE Kids project was going to be a little different.

The Lego model that the kids produced had a pool of water inspired by the gray watering system the enCORE house utilizes by collecting and reusing drain water. Boehm says the kids admired the pretty landscaping around the house as well and incorporated a garden. The challenge also required the models to incorporate a machine of some type. The students decided to build a windmill near the house as a form of alternative energy, connecting to the “reduce” aspect of the theme.

The Challenge itself took place June 3 at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Building in Columbus. Dozens of Cloverbud groups showed up from around Franklin County and Ohio. Each group presented their project to the judges and were awarded trophies.

Boehm’s enCORE Kids Cloverbuds team received the “Planet Protectors” award for their Lego model, with the judges particularly admiring their water collection system.

“It was a challenge to introduce this to kids so young, but it’s a great experience for them,” Boehm says. “When they do it again next year, they’ll really understand what it is they’re doing. It’s a great learning experience for the kids.”

Written by Natalie Michalski, Communications Assistant