Laurel Mountain FLL team researches bats, wins best ‘Animal Allies’ project

A project focused on bats and a possible solution to the Zika Virus led the “Batter Up” First Lego League (FLL) team from Laurel Mountain Elementary School to win the Best Project Award at the latest FLL competition in December 2016.

The team consists of Laurel Mountain fourth-grade students Ram Sivaraman, Naithruv Kashyap, Tanvi Reddy, Kael Kanudson and Adam Menezes and fifth-grade students Michael Rao and Matthew Rao. The group began the research project in August 2016 as part of the FLL Animal Allies challenge, which tasked students to present projects that explained how animals and humans help each other.

“Bats play a vital role in pollinating our crops since bees and hummingbirds are active only during the day,” Niathurv said. “Bats also eat mosquitoes and many other insects and prevent many mosquito-borne viruses such as malaria, yellow fever and Zika.”

The team visited the bat colony at the South Congress Bridge in Austin and met with a bat specialist from Bat Conservation to understand threats bats face in Austin. As the team learned that the bats’ habitats are decreasing, renovating a bat house became part of the project, which they donated to the Zilker Botanical Garden. The team also built a website to report bat sightings to track bat movement in Central Texas.

“The ‘Batter Up’ team completed months of research and enriched our students’ knowledge on the importance of bats as part of the FLL project,” Laurel Mountain Principal Jan Richards said. “It’s inspiring to see our students take initiative to share their knowledge to better our community and environment.”