The Northwest Earth and Space Pipeline (NESSP) wanted to give middle and high school students a way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing.

The Northwest Earth and Space Pipeline (NESSP) wanted to give middle and high school students a way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing. 

So, they created the Apollo Next Giant Leap Student (ANGLeS) Challenge. It is a national challenge that gave students the opportunity to recreate the lunar landing using a drone and a Lego Mindstorms EV3 robot.
The competition map was a picture of the moon where the original Apollo 11 landing took place. The competition run was comprised of a drone carrying a lunar lander and lowering the lander down on a specific target. After the lunar lander was dropped off the EV3 robot would navigate around the moon, avoiding craters. The robot would have to drop off a payload and then collect a “rock sample” and bring it back to the starting location. The teams would then be given one of three rocks and they had to correctly identify the rock sample.

We (Tate Topa Middle School) put together a team of four 7th grade boys and one 8th grade boy. However, over the course of summer school we lost three members. We competed with two 7th graders, Kallen Omen and Durwin Bull.
The first task the team had to tackle was creating a mission patch that represented the challenge and their community. As a team they came up with a design plan and Kallen Omen drew the patch. We later had the mission patch touched up by Decorated Wearables. We also had to create a social media post that showed our progress.

The team had to create a lunar lander and a payload. The payload also had to represent the team and their community. Our boys choose a buffalo skull because of the important role the buffalo played in the lives of their ancestors and the Spirit Lake reservation. The Northeast Education Cooperative (NESC) printed the buffalo skull with a 3D printer.
The last task the boys needed to do to get ready for the competition was to program their EV3 robot. The robot gave the boys a lot of trouble. However, they stayed determined and got it done.

There were 14 competitions held all over the United States. We traveled to Rapid City, SD to compete in the South Dakota/North Dakota Hub. There were four high school teams and two middle school teams that attended the SD/ND Hub competition. On competition day each team got two practice rounds before the competition run in the afternoon. Each team was scored on multiple categories. The mission patch, social media post, lunar lander, team uniform, payload, rock identification, design of the EV3 robot and the competition run were all taken in to account during the scoring process.

Our team ran into some problems during the practice runs. The air flow in the gym was much different than the air flow in the classroom the team had been practicing in all summer. The air flow greatly affected their drone and the lunar lander. They worked hard during the morning practice and made changes to their robot and lunar lander. When it came time for their competition run the boys were nervous. The air flow continued to affect the drone the lunar lander even after the boys had made changes to the lander. The drone was not able to lift the lunar lander high enough off the ground. Durwin was able to battle the air flow and was able to drop lunar lander directly in the center of the target. Kallen set up the robot and then started the program. The robot dropped off the payload in the correct spot. However, when the robot moved on to the next task a “rock” that the robot had to move caused the robot to go off of the map. The program continued to run and the robot made its way back on the competition map and collected a “rock sample.” The robot then successfully made it back to the starting point. Kallen was then given a rock sample to identify. He went above and beyond the expectations and identified all three rock samples. The competition run did not go as smoothly as we would have hoped. However, the boys successfully executed the important parts of the competition which resulted in them winning the middle school section of the competition.

The team has won a trip to Florida to tour the Kennedy Space Center.