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?
Suder Blog Entry_STF1 Lego Winners 2
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

Day in the Park 2012

Jess White is the STEM Initiatives Lead at NASA’s IV&V Program. He is the current coordinator for the Day in the Park event. 

Thirteen years of Day in the Park events has impacted over 10,000 West Virginia citizens with high quality NASA Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) educational content. This year’s Day in the Park event was no different. On October 23-24, 2012, approximately 1,200 fifth and seventh-grade students had the unique opportunity to learn about STEM careers, NASA’s mission and what it takes to be an astronaut. With a goal of inspiring, educating and engaging learners about NASA and STEM careers, students experienced hands-on scientific and engineering presentations by former astronaut Ken Cameron, the Carnegie Science Center and the Seattle-based Museum of Flight. Also attending and serving as Master of Ceremonies was former West Virginia Congressman Alan Mollohan.


Day in the Park is provided to students each year to fight against the trend of students losing interest in science and math during pre-adolescent formative years of development. Day in the Park vendors strive to provide content that is jam packed full of the “WOW” factor in regards to science and math. While eating lunch, a student told me that they are now torn between working for NASA’s IV&V Program in Fairmont and becoming an astronaut after hearing about Mr. Cameron’s experience as a NASA astronaut. Teachers attending the event were equally impressed, stating they think these types of STEM awareness opportunities are exactly what their students need as motivation to take the steps necessary to become our nations next generation of STEM professionals. 

I could not have ‘daydreamed’ better responses from guests of our Day in the Park events! 

For more photos, visit NASA’s IV&V Program page on Facebook.

Jess White
STEM Initiatives Lead
NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program