Adel boy’s 4-H invention wins Iowa State Fair scholarship


Bryson Smith, 15, of Adel saw a problem, and he reasoned his way to a solution. The effort netted him a $500 scholarship.

The problem was the family garden. Smith’s younger brother planted and tended the garden, but the family was often away on weekends and unable to water the garden as often as it needed it.

Since Smith, a sophomore at ADM High School, is a member of the Machine Magicians Robotics 4-H club of Adel, he brought his mechanical and robotic knowledge to bear on his brother’s thirsty garden and devised a system that would automatically irrigate the garden from the family rain barrel or, when rain was scarce, from the Adel municipal water supply.

Bryson’s father, Cliff Smith, is an automation engineer, and he made a few useful suggestions and offered a few helpful pointers. The result was a sensor that measures soil moisture in the garden and tells the auto-irrigator when to start dribbling, and a system of solenoids, filters and valves that brings the water to the veggies.

The device worked so well that Bryson entered it in the Iowa State Fair competition and won a $500 scholarship from Iowa State University. His parents are justifiably proud of their inventive son.

“He says it’s in the prototype stage, and he is working on refinements!” said Rebecca Smith, Bryson’s mom.

“I bet the Iowa Master Gardeners would love this!” said Kali Downs, administrative assistant at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in Dallas County.

The Machine Magicians Robotics 4-H club in Adel has been meeting for five years.


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