Alpine school’s Lego League helps Kenyan school get a well

The Lego League was learning about hydrodynamics when the students got an idea. What if they helped Alpine Elementary School’s sister school in Kenya get a well so its students had access to fresh water?

“It was just an idea,” said Alyssa Davidson, a sixth-grader and member of the Lego League at Alpine Elementary School. “It wasn’t a big possibility.”

What started out as an idea turned into a project, where local experts were brought in to speak to the students about wells, Lone Peak High School in Highland donated to the cause and what was once a small chance will become a reality.

Alpine School District’s Lego League team participates at an event.
Courtesy Jaime Clement

The Lego League, a program using Legos to teach students about robotics, uses competition topics that make students identify a real-world problem and solution. The students started brainstorming and thought of Candlelight, Alpine Elementary School’s sister school, located in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, where hundreds of the neediest students in Nairobi are taught.

The Candlelight School collects rainwater, but also has to buy water from the Kenyan government to have access to fresh water. The private school runs entirely on donations.

The two schools have been partnered for 10 years and an annual Alpine Elementary School fundraiser goes to helping Candlelight School with its needs.

But there was one big problem. The price to bring in a big drill for a well would be $18,000, double the $9,000 typically raised during its fundraiser.

Still, the students persisted.

“The kids were really enthusiastic,” said Jaime Clement, one of the team’s coaches. “It was all their idea.”

The team got connected with in South Jordan and found out about the Village Drill, which is significantly cheaper than bringing in a big drill, and was developed several years ago by Brigham Young University engineering students. The pieces started coming together for the elementary students, who then turned to Lone Peak High School for help.

“They wouldn’t give up,” said Deborah Larsen, one of the team’s coaches.

A group of the sixth grade Lego League students approached the school to see if the funds from the annual Gold Rush fundraiser could help the well project. Alyssa Davidson told the high school students she was worried about the cholera that could be in dirty water, which they didn’t want the Kenyan students to get.

Then, they waited. The students found out their project was chosen during their Lego League competition, which they won. The news made the students cheer in the lobby at the competition.

Matthew Price, a sixth-grader and member of the Lego League team, didn’t doubt their project would be chosen.

“We were excited it was actually going to happen and we’d get wells for Candlelight,” he said.

The final totals from Gold Rush aren’t in yet, but the high school students raised at least $25,000.

A handful of projects are presented to the school, with a different project chosen each year. Last year’s fundraiser benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Tyler Pack, who oversees student government at the high school, said the high school students were excited to partner with a local elementary school this year.

“I think it was something new and different,” Pack said.

Candlelight School’s rocky ground might not be a good fit for the Village Drill, but wells could be drilled at Candlelight’s nearby farm and orphanage, and money from the fundraiser could be used to help bring a stronger drill in or help the school with other needs such as medical supplies and food.

“There will be a well,” said Cherie Kelly, a member of the elementary school’s PTA and the liaison with Candlelight School.

SOURCE: Herald Extra


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