Sixty-two students from Rolla made up 11 teams that participated in the Kaleidoscope Discovery Center of Rolla's Junior Robotics Competition that was initially brought to the region six years ago by Kaleidoscope Discovery Center founder, Laura Antolak.

Each team worked on their projects for three months as part of the competition that was coordinated by Technology VISTA for Kaleidoscope Discovery Center, Fardos Aboargob.  Eleven coaches and six judges had also volunteered their time to train the inventive young minds and joined the students at Missouri University of Science and Technology’s Havener Center for the 2019 competition.


Students in kindergarten through third grade attempted to decipher how they could live on the moon at this year’s competition titled, Mission Moon.


The students explored a number of questions for the competition such as — what would you need to know about the moon to live there, what would you eat and drink, how will you get energy, how will you breathe, what will you do for fun and what other problems will you have to solve, President of Kaleidoscope Discovery Center’s governing board, Jyoti Malholtra, said.


“The kids were asked to design and build a moon base by using LEGO pieces to create a rocket ship and other elements from the Inspire Set to help them,” Malholtra noted. “Kids were asked to show their ideas for how to solve one or more of the problems they explored and also used the LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 to build and program at least one motorized part of their moon base.”


The 11 teams had different elements on their moon base that showed how they solved the topics they worked on that consisted of— how to get water on the moon, how to get energy on the moon, how to get food on the moon and how to breathe on the moon, Malholtra said. 


Before each team was recognized by a special award, Malholtra introduced Kaleidoscope Discovery Center’s inaugural executive director, Sarah Roulfs, to the audience.  Roulfs and Aboargob were in charge of this year’s program.


Malholtra recognized Kaleidoscope Discovery Center’s core team members who were present at the competition— Magdalena Zawodniok, of Kaleidoscope Discovery Center’s finance and accounting staff, as well as, Brandy Howdeshell, of Kaleidoscope Discovery Center’s VISTA for Outreach programs.


Malholtra then introduced the chief guest for this year's robotics competition, Laura Brown, to the audience. Brown is the director of early childhood programs for Rolla Public Schools.


“Laura gave a touching speech to the kids, making them understand what they presented today shows how talented kids are. Also, it shows that the kids had a plan,” Malholtra said.


Malholtra thanked all of the students’ parents for sharing their children with Kaleidoscope Discovery Center and recognized two of Kaleidoscope Discovery Center’s board members, Rob Baird, and, Dave Westenberg, for their continued help in the Kaleidoscope Discovery Center’s governance. 


“It was a wonderful display of concerted efforts by the participating kids, coaches, judges, and not to forget Kaleidoscope Discovery Center volunteers from Missouri University of Science and Technology and East Central College,” Malholtra said.