Community Contributed by Kalei “Pumpkin” Moss
This past summer while many teenagers were soaking in the sun, four Molokai High School students were planning and competing in a worldwide competition – Moonbots. Moonbots is a robotic competition sponsored by Google that hopes to get people interested in moon travel. Alex Gilliland, Michael and Luke Kikukawa, James Duffy and Coach Jenn Whitted worked together as the Molokai Mahina 2.0 Moonbots team to build and program their LEGO Mindstorm robot. The robots are built from a kit to be autonomous, meaning humans do not help it complete a particular task; the robot completes a task by following its computer programming. The students design and program the robots themselves. The robot must be able to do challenges or tasks that it would have to do as if it were on the moon, for example grab a loop which would represent water ice that is present on the moon.
In the first stage of the competition the team had to research one of four S.T.E.M. related questions in the form of a video essay, as well as present an overview of their robot. Out of all the teams in the world, only 20 are chosen to advance to Phase 2 of the competition. The Molokai Mahina 2.0 Moonbots team was one of those 20 teams and the only team ever chosen from Hawaii. In the second stage, teams had to then build their robot and compete via video chat for a judge that was located in England. Though the team from Molokai did not win the overall competition they were very proud to have placed in the top 20 in the world. For being in the top 20, each member received a T-shirt and the team won a LEGO Mindstorm robot kit.
The team was part of an advanced robotics class sponsored by the 21st Century Grant. The 21st Century Grant also sponsors beginner, intermediate and competitive First LEGO League (FLL) classes during the school year at Kaunakakai Elementary School, Kualapu`u Elementary School and the Molokai Middle School. If you would like your child to attend a FLL class or if you would like more information, contact Joshua Adachi at 553-1730 for Kaunakakai and Kualapu`u classes or Lyn Bonk at Molokai Middle School at 567-6940. Should you have difficulty getting in touch with Mr. Adachi or Mrs. Bonk, please contact Sandra Czajkowski at 658-0609. Maybe one day your children can be navigating the moon!