GreenTown Los Altos

Students To The Rescue!


Nov 2016



Benji, Joe, Aaron, Aidan, and Mehran, First Lego League team Picky Piranhas, ready to save our animal allies.

Alarmed by the plastic litter on our beaches, much of it plastic, and much of it destined to end up in the ocean, a group of Bullis Charter School’s 4th graders want to save our animal allies by cleaning up the litter. They have a plan and are sticking to it. The plan? Build a robot.

The robot will be electric, of course, and solar powered. It will charge by day and work all night. It will pick up trash, sort it then recycle the “good” plastic into something useful. It’s more of a Re-Bot (Recycling-Robot) whose concept we hope gets reused (pun, intended!).

How They Got The Idea

They got their ideas by talking to family, friends and researching the internet. They also asked GreenTown for advice, and GreenTown delivered.

  • Margie Suozzo told them the best plastics are #1 and #2 because these can be recycled over and over, so the robot needs to be able to sort plastic by type.
  • Linda Ziff pointed out that while recycling is good, not using so much plastic in the first place is even better.
  • Barbara and Kevin O’Reilly had fun telling them about Mike O’Reilly, who grew up in Los Altos and was on the team that built a boat, Plastiki, that used 12,500 plastic 2-L soda bottles for floatation. In 2010 it sailed from San Francisco to Sydney, to call attention to the Pacific Gyres where so much plastic debris ends up.

Finally, we suggested they really need to take a field trip and look at the beach. Observe obstacles that the robot will face – rocks, driftwood and kelp, and count the amount of “good” plastic that is out there.


Plastiki sails in the Bay.

That basic research will make sure their robot idea will work.


We enjoyed the enthusiasm and wish them nothing but the best.

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