By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Last spring, Hillrise Elementary School students rose to the challenge of naming the Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) water conservation roadrunner sculpture “Aguacito." The sculpture was named by David Uribe’s fourth and fifth grade bilingual class. "Aguacito" marks the entrance to the West Mesa Industrial Park.
Now, LCU is looking for a name for its robotic sewer truck and is hoping that more classes like Uribe’s can meet the new challenge.
“Children love challenges that ask them to be creative. Being creative allows our students to think ‘outside the box’ by connecting their prior knowledge with new knowledge,” Uribe said. “Las Cruces Utilities has provided the initiative or driving motivation for teachers and students in Las Cruces to think about important happenings in our city.”
The little robotic truck does important things, even with a small stature. Measuring only 10-inches by 25-inches, it transports a camera measuring 6-inches by 18-inches on its important missions. The truck’s camera “sees” what LCU employees up on the ground cannot see; cracks or damage to sewer lines that could lead to a collapse. It can also find the exact location of damage so workers at ground level know exactly where to dig to make repairs. Sometimes, the truck gets to see "friends" along the way, like a mouse or even a snake.
Teachers can incorporate this into classroom learning with different prompts: What’s the truck’s story? How did he or she become a mascot for keeping our sewers safe and clean? What do you think the truck’s day is like? How does the truck work with the LCU employees who watch the camera signal sent back to the surface? How might some of those characteristics lead to a really great name for our little truck?
The only rule is: Please submit only one name per class. Schools may submit names from as many classes as they would like. Teachers can submit a name until March 1, 2020. Classes should email the name they choose - only one name - along with the school’s name, teacher’s name, and contact information to LCU Wastewater Deputy Director, John Mrozek, at email@example.com.
Uribe said, "The excitement of winning was only the frosting on the cake. The ideas, research, and discussions that preceded the naming were the ingredients that made the cake. We hope that the City of Las Cruces and their departments continue to be an active partner in public education."
Teachers are also free to email if they have questions, and LCU would love to see the students’ truck stories or pictures they draw. The winning name will be selected by the LCU Board of Commissioners in March 2020.
You can reach Las Cruces Utilities at 575/528-3500 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Las Cruces Utilities provides GAS – WATER – WASTEWATER – SOLID WASTE services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
The LCU robotic truck rolls through the city sewers sending back video images of everything it sees inside, like little cracks that could become big. Students in Las Cruces are invited to help name the little truck.
NOTE: This story was recently published in the Las Cruces Bulletin.