Today’s guest post was provided by Malinda Mongosa, FIRST® LEGO® League coach in Compton, CA, USA.

In September, the Augusta A. Mayo Elementary School FIRST LEGO League hosted two NASA scientists to kick off the season.

The day came about through the efforts of Ms. Malinda Mongosa, Mayo’s FIRST LEGO League coach, who reached out to the NASA office in Washington, DC. Her efforts paid off. Two scientists, Dr. Jitendra Joshi, from NASA in Washington, DC, and Dr. Murray Darrach, from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, agreed to visit.

Originally planned as an online Skype chat, it turned into an in-person event for the entire district. Students from Mayo’s Saturday School and from FIRST LEGO League teams in the district were invited to attend. About 200 K-8 students, parents, and staff responded.

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Dr. Joshi and Dr. Darrach started with a meet and greet and gave a presentation on space exploration.

The monumental day began with a meet and greet. Dr. Joshi treated attentive students to a captivating presentation on space exploration. It was followed it up by a lively question-and-answer session.

After the presentation, FIRST LEGO League students from the district were able to speak directly with both scientists. The teams discussed their research projects with them and had conversations about space travel.

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Mayo’s FIRST LEGO League teams, Team #31367, The Galaxians and Team #31368, Space Comida, were very excited about the event.

The Galaxians, an all-boys team, discussed their project about creating oxygen on Mars.  The group enjoyed how Dr. Joshi involved the students to act out the problems and solutions when traveling in space.  They liked the message by Dr. Joshi that nothing is impossible when solving problems.

Space Comida, an all-girls team, questioned the scientists about soil composition on Mars.  The girls unanimously stated that meeting NASA scientists was the best part of the whole day.

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Representing the power of knowledge and exploration, the authors signed a dictionary with the word “impossible” crossed out. They donated the dictionary and a book about space to the Mayo library. To commemorate the day, the school presented Dr. Joshi with a certificate of appreciation and a gift.

All students who attended received gifts donated by NASA: backpacks, posters, stickers, reference materials with space facts and an astronaut figurine.

Coaches in attendance appreciated the opportunity. It was an honor having such notable persons visiting the school; and the visit enhanced the students’ experience and education.

“We had two hundred students sitting and focusing for more than an hour while listening to Dr. Joshi and Dr. Darrach. This is a testament to their quest for knowledge,” Mongosa said.


Need help with your research topic? NASA is happy to connect your team with answers to any questions you may have. To assist, NASA pulled together a list of frequently asked questions and tips on how to ask an expert questions.

Where has research taken your team this season? Share it with us @firstlegoleague or email firstlegoleague@firstinspires.org.