The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Laura Wagner
For the Courier 

Nashua Por-Q-Bots Tackle 'Animal Allies' Theme


Laura Wagner / For the Courier

This year's Nashua Por-Q-Bot team (l-r): Zoe Zabel, Caden Laumeyer, John Grimes, Aurorua Hankins and Xander Pugh. Not pictured are the coaches, Laura Wagner and Brian Nybakken.

The Nashua School is proud to have a Por-Q-Bots team again this year, trying to follow a long legacy of successful teams since 2005. They have been meeting four days a week since the beginning of December, and at least two days a week much of the fall, to learn enough to go to the state tournament in Bozeman on Jan. 28. Due to a change in coaches and a loss of more experienced members, this is a "building" year for the young team. Xander Pugh, John Grimes, Caden Laumeyer, Zoe Zabel, and Aurorua Hankins comprise the team with coaches Brian Nybakken and Laura Wagner. Four of the five team members are fifth grade rookies, with a sixth grader, Xander, who was in it last year.

This year's theme is "Animal Allies," which involves teams studying various ways that animals and humans interact with each other. The FIRST LEGO League is a worldwide competition to encourage young people ,ages 9-14, to learn science and technology through teamwork, doing a research project and a robot game. Judging is done in both these areas, plus teamwork, at the competition. One of the "Core Values" of FIRST LEGO League is to have the students do all the work with guidance from their coaches and mentors. Another is to have fun while doing this! The students build and program a LEGO Mindstorms robot to do missions on a standardized, tabletop playing field that is the same for all FIRST LEGO teams all over the world. The missions are set up each season by a team of engineers who devise the mission models and set tasks to do for points. For instance, this year's missions in the robot game include getting milk from a milking barn, feeding animals, putting a bee on its hive and getting honey out, and helping a guide dog for the visually impaired.

In addition, the team members have a research project related to the theme, that they present to judges at the competition. This year, the Nashua team has selected the problem of invasive mussels as their research project, since larvae was found in Montana waters this fall. We have listened to local experts from the fish hatchery and the Corps of Engineers talk about invasive zebra and quagga mussels and the damage they do. The students have also done a lot of research on their own. The solution that the team invented is an underwater robot, called M. M. U. R. that is programmed to locate and collect the mussels in an underwater "vacuum" type of machine. M. M. U. R. is an acronym for Magic Mussel Underwater Remover.

The FIRST LEGO League is one of about four different programs that are sponsored by a group of companies to promote science and technology. There are other programs for both older and younger students. If you are interested in learning more about any of the FIRST programs, look at


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