Matsuyama’s robotics team takes on ‘Trash Trek’ challenge

e-Connections Post Matsuyama

Editor’s note: The following article was submitted by the Matsuyama Elementary School robotics team.

We are the robotics team at Matsuyama Elementary School. We are fourth through sixth graders who recently competed at the First LEGO League competition in Folsom on November 14.

The name of the challenge this year was Trash Trek. For the challenge we had to: Identify a problem with the way we make or handle trash; design an innovative solution to the problem selected; share our problem and solution with others; and participate in a robot competition.

In researching information about recycling, we discovered that most plastics in the United States are not recycled. According to, almost 50 billion plastic water bottles were created in the United States, and only around 38 million were recycled.

The average time taken by plastic bottles to decompose in a landfill is close to 700 years.

We went through one bag of trash at school. We found a lot of plastic items that could have been recycled. We guessed that about 25 percent of that 40-gallon trash bag should have been recycled. Matsuyama averages four of those bags of trash per day, according to our custodian.

When you multiply that by 76 schools in SCUSD, that’s a lot of trash (four bags of trash times 76 schools that is at least 304 bags of trash per day). Imagine 76 bags of trash being recycled everyday instead of going to the landfill. Over the school year, that would save so much space in the landfill.

We contacted the Sacramento County Recycling Facility and discovered that all types of plastic can be recycled in Sacramento County. We are lucky in Sacramento County that the county Recycling Facility accepts all types of plastics. But we had to contact them to find that info. We need to get the word out that people should be recycling any plastics that have a recycling symbol with the numbers 1 to 7 in the center.

On competition day our robot performed very well. Our first run we earned 271 points, then 221, then 331 – the highest point total ever by a Matsuyama Robotics Team! Way to go!

Our team members are:
Kianna Nakaoka – fourth grade
Sora Ezzell – fifth grade
Togo Kurosaki – fifth grade
Andrew Seaver – sixth grade
Chase Sudmann – sixth grade
Eugene Kim – sixth grade
Jake Crawford – sixth grade
Michelle Wee – sixth grade