White Hall Elementary School Mighty Builders Team Wins West Virginia’s First Spacecraft LEGO Challenge

This fall, White Hall Elementary School in White Hall, W.Va., sponsored a First Lego League Junior (FLL Jr.) team.  Eleven fourth-grade team members and two coaches met twice a week for several months to develop a LEGO model, poster and presentation to illustrate what they learned as part of this year’s CREATURE CRAZE Challenge.  As part of their meetings, the Mighty Builders participated in West Virginia’s First Spacecraft LEGO Challenge.

Suder Blog Entry_STF1 Lego Winners
Image Credit: Mark Suder

The challenge fit naturally into the learning the students were doing as part of the CREATURE CRAZE Challenge.

“The team and building rules were similar to what we were doing for FLL Jr., and the kids needed to begin learning about our WeDo LEGO set, how the motors and sensors work, and how to program it, so this challenge seemed like a natural fit for our meetings,” coach Mark Suder said.

With the guidance of their coaches, the kids split into several teams to create LEGO satellite models, then chose one to add motors, sensors and a brain to.  Following the addition of and learning about these parts, the kids brainstormed about the questions that were posed to them for West Virginia’s First Spacecraft LEGO Challenge.  Those questions were:

  1. What you want to have in West Virginia’s second spacecraft and why?
  2. What is different from your LEGO STF-1 and NASA’s LEGO STF-1 and why?
  3. How do CubeSats affect space exploration around the world?
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Image Credit: Mark Suder

“Creative, energetic, smart, enthusiastic!  Those are the words I would use to describe the students,” Suder said. “As the coach, I have been both proud and inspired to be part of this team.  These kids are the future of the country, and with all the negative news these days it is neat to see that there is also a lot of hope for the future based on these inspirational young people of today.  Besides, who doesn’t like playing with LEGOs?”

The team was incredibly excited to learn that they had won the First Spacecraft LEGO Challenge and was excited to tour NASA IV&V and receive their first place prize.

In addition to the tour, and to both congratulate and celebrate the accomplishments of this team, NASA’s IV&V Program invited the students, their teachers, as well as the school’s principal to attend IV&V’s Internal Award Event. The students were presented with certificates of appreciation, and in return, presented IV&V’s Director Greg Blaney, as well as the program, with a thank you card from the team.

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Image Credit: Clayton Peachey
20161213-Christmas Auction Party_00037 Award group Mighty Builders
Image Credit: Clayton Peachey

Mark Suder | Systems Analyst
NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program

Intern Q&A: Cortney Mercer and Nick Ohi

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Name: Cortney Mercer
Home Town: Morgantown, WV
High School Attended/College: University High School/West Virginia University in the fall of 2014, planning to study mechanical and aerospace engineering
Why you applied for a NASA internship? I have always been interested in STEM fields and interested in space flight, I hope to work for NASA, another space organization or an underwater robotics company in the future. This opportunity just helps me reach for my goals!
What are you doing for NASA (brief summary of intern project)? I am working with the Robotics Capabilities Development (CD) here at NASA IV&V to build a test-bed as well as develop procedures to perform verification and validation on computer vision software. I will be working with other high school and college interns here at the facility, as well as the members of the Robotic CD team to test different computer vision algorithms, this will be useful in situations such as asteroid redirect and automated satellite repair.
What do you like most about working for NASA? I like working for NASA because it gives me the opportunity to talk to experienced people in a field that I am interested in, it gives me the opportunity to learn about my potential career.

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Name:
Nick Ohi
Home Town: Morgantown, WV
High School Attended: Homeschooled
College Attending: West Virginia University
Semester/Year: Entering Senior Year / Finished Junior Year
Major: Dual Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Why you applied for a NASA internship? I have always been very interested in space and everything STEM related. I would like to work for NASA or another organization involved in spaceflight for my career, so this opportunity allows me to gain experience pursuing that goal.
What are you doing for NASA (brief summary of intern project)? My project is to work with the Robotics Capabilities Development (CD) team here at IV&V and develop a test-bed and document procedures for doing IV&V on robotic systems that involve computer vision. I will be working with other college and high school interns as well as member of the Robotics CD team test different computer vision algorithms in scenarios such as automated satellite repair and asteroid redirection.
What do you like most about working for NASA? Not only does this internship opportunity provide me with valuable experience towards my career goals, I really enjoy the work environment here at IV&V. Everyone, from the other interns to the permanent employees are all great people to work with.

 

 

 

 

Intern Q&A: Esha Halabe and Katie Warner

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Name:
Esha Halabe
Home Town: Morgantown, West Virginia
High School Attended: Morgantown High School
College Attending: Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Semester: 1st Semester Freshman
Major: Materials Science and Chemical Engineering
Why you applied for a NASA internship? I applied for a NASA internship to apply my learned textbook theory to real-world problems, to gain hands-on engineering practice in a professional work environment, and to explore various STEM fields.
What are you doing for NASA (brief summary of intern project)? The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Observatory relies on a robust Fault Management system. To verify and validate that system, I am helping the IV&V team generate a Database and Test Bed to analyze JWST’s many system and subsystem components. The goal of my project is to add to the overall assurance of the Fault Management system.
What do you like most about working for NASA? The best part about working for NASA is getting to be a part of such a hardworking and innovative team. We’re working toward developing groundbreaking systems and technology, and I’m learning something new every day.

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Name: Katherine Warner
Home Town: Morgantown
High School Attended/College: University High School/currently enrolled at West Virginia University, studying electrical engineering. She is in her sophomore year.
Why you applied for a NASA internship? I wanted to learn more about NASA and the work it does, explore potential careers with the agency, and get some “real-world” experience to help find the best career for me.
What are you doing for NASA (brief summary of intern project)? I am comparing the simulation environments that test/will test MPCVs like Orion, the one being launched in December, before they are launched to ensure everything runs as it should in every situation.
What do you like most about working for NASA? The atmosphere is so much more than what I expected- to be honest I did not expect much so I wouldn’t be too impressed or displeased- and I cannot wait to spend most of my summer around such great people learning from knowledgeable but approachable and personable mentors.