A team of ten students from Mountain Arlington, NJ went head to head with opponent teams in the First Lego League Robotics program—a program that combines robotics design with core values and research service projects. Inspired by the story of white-nose syndrome in North American bats, the team created a “Mount Arlington School Save the Bats” program for their First Lego League Animal Allies Project.
Students chose bats as their “animal ally” of choice to raise awareness of the fact that there have been devastating losses of bat populations in the United States since 2006, spreading from New York State to all 29 states east of the Mississippi. An estimated 6.7 million bats have succumbed to the white-nose fungus—known as Pseudogymnoascus destructans—since then. The robotics teams researched the issue and discovered the different ways in which scientists have been investigating the problem. Afterwards, students identified possible solutions to help control the spread of the disease, and even introduce the bacterium Rhodococcus rhodochrous to natural bat populations to attempt to halt the disease.
The team has created an educational website for their program, and team members regularly display their project results at local libraries and borough halls. The website can be viewed at the following link.