Student Competitions

Girl-Led Teams Win MoonBots Grand Prizes

Four teams from three countries have won the Google Lunar XPrize for Kids, also known as the MoonBots Challenge, and for the first time since the competition began in 2010, the majority of team members were girls.

The competition sponsored by XPRIZE and Google challenged teams of students between the ages of 8 and 17 to design, create and program their own lunar rovers.

The winning teams are:

  • Team GalacTechs from Tustin, CA: Two girls and two boys, aged 8 to 11, who imagined a future where people vacation at a resort on the moon;
  • Linked Lunas from Fort Lauderdale, FL: 9-year-old twin sisters whose mission was based on a historical tale and scientific theory that the Earth once had "twin" moons that collided and merged into one;
  • Mecaliks from Cuautitlan Izcalli, Mexico: Three girls ages 9 to 12, who were inspired by Mayan cultural beliefs that time is measured by lunar phases; and
  • Moonshot from Brooklyn, NY, and Naples, Italy: Two boy cousins, 10 and 12, who live in different countries and share a similar interest in the moon.

"All four grand prize winners were creative and imaginative in the way they interpreted their moon tales," said Google Lunar XPRIZE Senior Director Chandra Gonzales.

The competition, which began in April, drew 239 teams from 29 countries who each submitted a written or video entry about what inspires them about the moon. A panel of judges selected 30 teams and gave them each one of three platform systems (Lego Mindstorms EV3, Vex IQ or Meccano Meccanoid G15 KS) to build and program a simulated robotic mission based on the moon tale they submitted in the first round.

Their final presentations were shown to judges via live webcast.

All four teams will receive expense-paid trips to Japan to meet the adult teams competing for the $30-million Google Lunar XPrize, a contest to land a privately funded robot on the moon, at their annual Team Summit.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.