“The Team Who Must Not Be Named” won the national competition during the 2020 ROADS Lego League competition, bringing home the award for Socorro County. Pictured are three of the five members of the team, Ixchel, Iriana and Ithan Valentino displaying their champion concoction.
Greg Byrd | El Defensor Chieftain

It was a tough year of competition for Socorro’s “The Team Who Must Not Be Named”. Coming off a fantastic showing in 2019, the crew was ready to improve further for the ROADS program (Rover Observation and Drone Survey) to represent Socorro County in robotics. The team won nationals in the DART group, designated for teams with competitors grades 9-12.

“Our team won the nation,” Team Coach Gwen Valentino said. “The results were delayed because of Covid. The teams had to submit remotely. Fortunately, the NESSP were able to help the environment and our league.”

The NESSP (Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pipeline) is a respected group focused on green energy while introducing science and engineering to the next generation.

This latest 2020-21 competition was unlike any other, as teams had to submit their designs remotely with bots and courses made individually and entered to the judging committee via Zoom calls and video submissions.

“We had to set up the field in our living room,” Ixchel Valentino said. “It was 10 foot by 8 foot and it took up a lot of room for a while. Somebody would film, somebody would fly the drone and somebody would drive the robot.”

“The organization gave us a manual to go off of,” Gwen added. “There were certain materials we could or could not use. In the end, the group was understanding and we would just use whatever we could get our hands-on. They used things like pool noodles to make the craters and 3-ring binders to make hills to name a few.”

While team “Who Must Not Be Named” celebrated finding out about the win last week, the future of the team is not set in stone. The three Valentinos, Ixchel, Iriana and Ithan have recently moved to the East Mountains near Albuquerque while their teammates Robinson and Keller Ford still reside in Socorro.