The H2OFros practiced their robotics and their team cheer Wednesday.

Members of the Aquatic Alliance of Pufferfish practice their presentation.

Two Vinton-Shellsburg Middle School Lego League teams, the seventh grade members of the H2OFros and the sixth grade team, Aquatic Alliance of Pufferfish, are preparing for this weekend’s Lego League State competition at the ISU campus in Ames.

While the name Lego League makes most people think of the electronic vehicles moving through a unique course, the contest is much more than that.

While the robotics portion is part of the team score (and for many, the most fun part of Lego League), the competition also includes a presentation about a specific topic, as well as a question-and-answer session with judges.

The H2O Fro’s ( who have chosen the them: Big Hair, Big Ideas) chose to study lead poisoning in tap water. Their solution is the water canary, a device that instantly detects lead in water. The fastest working kit sold currently takes ten minutes to detect lead in your water. They came up with the name water canary from miners that would go into mines with a canary to detect dangerous gases.

The Aquatic Alliance of Pufferfish, however, chose a much bigger word and a water-related problem few Americans have heard of: Schistosomiasis.

Schistosomiasis, caused by parasitic worms , affects millions of people in certain tropical and sub-tropical areas, including Africa.

The Pufferfish team members have devised an engineering plan to boil water, killing the parasites that cause the disease.

This week, both teams have been rehearsing all of the aspects of the competition, from their robot building and programming to their presentations, and even their team song (the song is not judged, but teams are awarded for their team spirit).

Many of the members of the H20Fros were also on last year’s sixth grade team, which they called the Chattery Chincillas.

Cyborg Sharks honored for robot design

Although they were not chosen for the State competition, a third VSMS team won a unique honor at their regional competition. The Cyborg Sharks received the Robot Design Award. This honors the team for the way they created their machine, as well as they way they could explain to the judges how they created and programmed their robot to accomplish certain tasks.

Team members include:

H2O Fro’s – Annabelle Newton, Lizzie Noe, Brylee Bruce, Ian Allsup, Cami Dawson-Fink, Aspen Ahrenholz, Lillia Dalstrom, Ellery Johnson, Natalie Dean, Darby Glynn.

Aquatic Alliance of Pufferfish – Hugh Mangold, Carmen Henkle, Sophia Vasquez, Sam Glynn, Eli Page.
Cyborg Sharks – Emmett Colsch, Carter Lamont, Max Janssen, Wyatt Janssen, Oliver Cox, Aleric Weber.
See more photos of the teams and the contest HERE.
See more information about the competition HERE.
See more photos of this week’s practice sessions HERE.