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Our Team

Core Values

Our team played games to help us learn how to work together. Our best games were when we asked everyone for their ideas, voted on the best idea, and then made a plan to finish the game. We noticed we did not win the game when we did not work together. In one game, we had to find Lego pieces according to size and color and then put them in the same color tub. We worked hard to find the pieces on our own, but then forgot to get points by putting them in the tub. We asked the coach if we could play again and then we worked together and won some points!

Field Trips and Professionals

Our field trip day was so fun! We started the day by going to the Melvin Price Lock and Dam Museum in Alton Illinois. There was so much to learn. We looked at how the Mississippi River was a source of water for people and animals[1]. We saw how barges are used to transport things like seeds and coal. We saw all kinds of different animals that live in the area. We learned about how there are people that work with the river, such as the Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. We were disappointed because we did not get to go on the tour to see the lock and dam, but we plan on going back to see it!   

We then headed to Eckert’s Apple Orchard. We wanted to see how Eckert’s would water their apple crop when there was a drought. We went on a wagon and picked apples. They were so crunchy and sweet. The farm manager told us that they have a pond with a natural spring with a pump and hoses that they use to water the apple orchards. When there is a drought, they use up to 100,000 gallons a month! The manager also said it took almost a year for the pond to fill back up. We ate lunch here and then headed to our next destination – the ferry!  

We were in our cars and got on the Grafton, Illinois ferry to head back to our meeting place. A lot of us had never been on a ferry before! We saw the tugboat and how the workers made sure the cars were on the ferry. We had to pay to use the ferry. We talked about if you lived there and had to take the ferry to work and how that could be a problem if the ferry didn’t run during bad weather. We were tired when we got back, but had a lot to talk about at our next meeting.

Problem Identification

We read about our challenge and looked up ideas for our project on the FIRST Website[2]. We had a topic and then asked ourselves 5 questions and then looked up the answers. We also wrote down where we got our information. Some of the topics we first had were dams, levees, water treatment, and piping[3]. Some of our resources were the internet, videos, books, professionals, our coaches, and our parents. Each teammate talked about their topic.

We also collected water samples from the Mississippi and Missouri river, as well as water from our coaches’ house. We had a water tester package and we tested our water. We found out that there are different minerals in our water and water has to have certain levels of minerals in order to be able to drink it. We talked about how water treatment plants treat our water in order for us to be able to drink it from the faucets in our homes. If there is something in our water like lead, if we drink it, it could make us sick. We saw that the bottle of Mississippi water looked dirty and we decided we would not drink it! Yuck!

After going on the field trip and talking with the farm manager, we brought up more topics, such as drought. After voting, we picked drought. We decided to ask some more questions and do some more research on what the farm manager had told us.

We came up with a problem statement: If there is a drought, Eckert’s would spend more money to water their apples and then it would cost us more to purchase apples from them.


We looked up rain barrels as a solution to the problem. Rain barrels hold 55 gallons[4] and by dividing that into 100,000 gallons – we found out that we would need 1,819 barrels to help water the orchard and that are only for a month!  

That seemed like something we would not be able to do. We thought another pond or well might help, but quickly realized that would cost a lot of money. We tried to figure out how water from the river could be piped to the orchard, but the river was over three miles away.

We decided that one rain barrel would be a start. We thought about different ways to fill up the rain barrel in a drought. We saw at the orchard that they sold bottled water. We talked about waste water. We came up with an idea! What if we had a bottled water waste station, where if someone did not drink all their water, they could pour the leftover water in the rain barrel? We could also have a recycle bin for the plastic bottle. We wanted that plastic to be recycled so another rain barrel could be made. We saw that could be a cycle. We contacted Eckert’s to see if they would be willing to help us with our project. We were disappointed when they did not get back with us.

We decided we had a good project, so we brainstormed on where else we could help. We needed somewhere where they needed water to water plants and also had water bottles. We thought about other orchards, farmers markets, and our very own Circle of Light Associates Non-Profit Victory Community Garden! We decided our own garden, as well as other community gardens, could benefit from our idea! We purchased a rain barrel on Craig’s list for $10.00. Our coach went to pick it up for us. We had to figure out how to pay for the barrel, so we decided to do penny wars. We would need to collect 1000 pennies! We already had a recycle bin that was purchased from a previous year’s FLL season. We had a plan!

We wanted to find out more about plastic bottle waste water, so we looked up more information. We found out how much a person wastes a day – 80 to 100 gallons a day![5] Wow! We also found out that only 1 out of 5 plastic bottles is recycled.[6] We also contacted the director of the garden to let her know our idea and presented our project to them at the garden.  

They already have rain barrels, but this barrel would be used for good and clean human waste water only. When there is a group of people working at the garden, there are multiple leftover water bottles. The leftover wastewater would be poured in the barrel and the bottle would be put in the recycle bin.

Once the bin is full, it would be collected for recycling. Melted ice water could also be used.

Our problem statement: Plastic water bottles are brought to the garden for the workers. Water is leftover in plastic water bottles and is usually thrown away with the bottle. That water is good wastewater and can be used to water the plants.

Our solution statement: Provide a specific rain barrel for good and clean human waste water from plastic water bottles or other sources, such as melted ice. Provide a recycle bin for the plastic water bottle to be recycled. The plastic could be recycled to be made into other items, such as benches and barrels.

We talked about how engineers use this loop to design and engineer a project. We noticed how we came up with an idea, but it was not going to solve Eckert’s problem of drought. Our solution led us to another need which we had to test and evaluate. We realized we are a team of project engineers! 


We presented our project to the COLA Victory Garden director, Sandra Wood. She was excited about our project! She let us know that we will have to put the rain barrel on a platform, so the water will come out of the faucet using gravity. We will go back in the spring to help. 


2. FIRST, Online Resource Library,

3. University of Missouri Extension, Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education,

4. YouTube, How to Build a Rain Barrel,

5. U.S. Geological Survey, Bottled Waste Water Facts,

6. The World Counts, Water Uses in the World,

7. COLA Victory Garden, Director Sandra Wood

8. Team Website, Cool Orange Lego Athletes

9. FLL Coach, Christine Filla

10. Parents & Team Volunteers

E-mail sent to Kathleen Carson, Education Manager, Gateway GreeningCool Orange LEGO Athletes Team #1625 Project Tue, Nov 7, 2017 7:34 pm

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