Los Alamos Quadrumaniacs Robotics Team Qualifies For International Competition In West Virginia

The Quadrumaniacs with their robot, from left, Zoya Kahn, Timothy Rousculp, Sasha Simakov, Magellon Bronson and Lucy Kelley. Members Corben Meek and Maggie Kelley are not pictured.  Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/ladailypost.com

Los Alamos Daily Post


The story of how the Quadrumanics got their name tells you something about the team. The name comes from quadrumana, primates with four hands. Probably, most people reading this didn’t know that, but the team did. During a game of telephone, quadrumana became “quadrumaniac,“ team member Timothy Rousculp explained.

This co-ed team is truly made up of crazy monkeys, according to their coaches. Smart, crazy monkeys.

This is the third year the team has competed in the FIRST LEGO League, FLL competition. The team is made up of kids in fifth through seventh grade.

“The team has seven members, but it’s really 7.5 because one of our members moved away during this year,” team member Sasha Simakov said.

This year, they’ve been very successful in competition. The Quadrumaniacs won the First Place Champion’s Award at the local qualifying event, then went on to win second at the state competition, allowing them to compete in a post-season international competition Mountain State FLL Invitational in July in West Virginia.

“Each year, the FLL challenge is released in August with a new theme,” mentor and coach Susannah Rousculp said.

Teams of students (ages 10-15) are tasked with designing, building and programming a LEGO Mindstorms robot, she explained. They compete on a 4’ x 8’ competition mat with LEGO missions built to reflect the year’s theme. This year’s theme in FLL was “Into Orbit.” In the robot games, teams sent a payload down a ramp, collected core samples, activated a 3D printer and placed satellites in the red planet’s orbit, all in LEGO models. Teams also compete in three judged sessions: Robot Design, Project and Core Values.

“Designing the robot is the most rewarding and the project is the hardest,” team member Zoya Kahn said.

All of the team members work on all of the parts of the competition, she said.

Kahn and Simakov explained how the robot games work. Teams send a payload down a ramp, collect core samples, activate a 3D printer and put satellites into orbit, all in LEGO models. While Kahn and team member Simakov put the robot through its paces, team members Magellon Bronson, Corben Meek and Lucy Kelley worked on the project during a recent visit at their workshop. The problem they are working to solve is how to avoid the mental and physical problems astronauts face in zero gravity, Kelley explained.

“We give them a hug,” Kelley said laughing. “We are proposing a machine that simulates a hug. It relaxes the astronaut’s muscles and makes them feel better emotionally.”

The team must come up with a story to go along with the problem solving project, Meek explained.

“It has to be entertaining as well as explaining the solution,” Meek said.

The team shared the problem with physical and occupational specialists, engineers and even a NASA communications specialist.

“They gave us really valuable feedback,” Kelley said.

The team is seeking funds to attend the July competition. Those interested in learning more about the team or donating, can contact Coach Susannah Rousculp at rousculp@cybermesa.com.

Visit the Quadrumaniacs on Facebook to learn more and see pictures.