🐄 Cow farts to power homes? These Florida students bring concept to life

Ormond Beach STEM club creates robot, virtual farm to harness fart energy

ORMOND BEACH, Fla. – A group of students is headed to a big robotics competition in North Florida, highlighting their engineering skills and unique project using cow power to create electricity, more specifically their farts.

It’s all about trial and error for the robotics team at Modern Minds Learning in Ormond Beach. The students using engineering skills to design a robot, then coding it to perform specific tasks.

Ethan Strode is just 12 years old working on the robotics project with his teammates preparing to travel to North Florida for the FIRST Lego League state robotics competition.

Their uniforms match the theme, each team member dressing in cow print onesies. Energy is the theme for this year’s first Lego League season, students finding a unique way to harness energy: using cow farts.

“We were jokingly talking about cow farts as an energy source for the future. At first I was like, ‘No, we’re going to be the laughing stock’ but really it has become something that could be possible. All the cows on earth could potentially power 300 million homes so that is a huge impact considering the amount of people in the us alone,” said STEM educator Morgan Phillips, who oversees the robotics team.

Their project is called “Farms of the Future.”

[WATCH BELOW: Here’s how cow fart energy works]

The students worked for months researching, consulting dairy and energy experts and coming up with their award-winning robot design that earned them a spot in the state competition.

“The dome-like farm that they have created will capture the methane through a selective membrane just by the cows doing their business, walking around, the manure counts, their flatulence and belches count,” Phillips said. “It will rise, be separated by a selective membrane and be released into a turbine. That gas turbine is what converts the methane being burnt into electricity.”

Nine students ranging from fourth to eighth graders bringing the concept to life.

“They built it in Minecraft livestock farm and then built it out of LEGOs. It’s very detailed and intricate, goes from cows to blocks of methane to where the methane will be converted,” Phillips said.

Throughout the process the students had to make adjustments in design and coding and dealing with conflict to reach a common goal. Phillips said it takes perseverance for the team to succeed. It’s a skill that will help thee students well into the future.

“First off it takes time to build, the amount of work and confidence at the end of the season is beyond what you can do in the general classroom,” Phillips said. “Robotics empowers them to think critically and just think differently about things in the world.”

The students even visited the Volusia County landfill to better understand the process of measuring methane gas and the potential for converting it into energy.

The “Modern Minds Mechanics” team is raising money to cover travel expenses and materials for their robots using a GoFundMe page.

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About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a morning news anchor who joined the News 6 team in 2020.