Mrs. Tina Bowers
Holy Family School is very proud of their sixth grade First Lego League Robotics Team, “Space Cow Theory,” for their accomplishments this year. The team of sixth graders, led by three dad coaches, were recognized for their success in their project, in which the goal was to develop solutions to real-world problems that demonstrate originality and have the potential to add significant impact to the world. Their innovative project idea led to two awards and even earned them a spot as finalists in the regional expo.
This year’s theme for the first Robotics challenge was “Into Orbit.” As part of the challenge, not only did the team have to design and program a robot made up of Legos to accomplish missions in the robot game, but the team also had a project, which was to identify a human physical or social problem faced during long duration space exploration. Once the problem was identified, the team had to provide an innovative solution that makes the problem better. This is where our team really began to shine.
The problem the team identified was to reduce the amount of trash generated during long term space travel. Additionally, the team also considered a unique way to add vitamins and flavor to the meals the space travel crew would eat during their mission. Their proposed solution was to create an edible food packaging with vitamins and flavoring added, that could actually be eaten as part of the meal or be dissolved by adding water to a meal, such as soup. Removing the need to carry this additional trash not only reduced waste, it could save approximately $6,000,000 to the overall mission cost.
The boys also came up with the idea to add vitamins to the edible packaging to provide an alternative to taking vitamin supplements. Also, they recognized that adding flavoring to the edible packaging could solve a common complaint of astronauts, which is that the food is too bland.
This innovative solution also has the potential to be applied to current food packaging on Earth to reduce waste and offer other ways to provide nourishment and flavoring to commonly eaten individually wrapped foods.
During the Qualifying Tournament in November, the problem and solution was presented to a panel of judges and the team was awarded both the Project Award and the Global InnovationAward for their unique and innovative project. These awards meant the judges found potential value in the team’s solution and gave the team an opportunity to participate in the NorCal Region Innovation Expo in March. After preparing their presentation for the Innovation Expo for months, the team brought prototypes of the edible food packaging to show the judges, presented their solution, and fielded intense questions from a panel of judges.
Through their Robotics journey this year, the team learned a lot about critical thinking, problem solving, and how to present their ideas to others. Holy Family School is very proud of our team for already thinking about ways to find unique solutions to real problems and to make an impact on the world.