You may notice several new flower beds from Huntington Park to Newport News Park. They are positioned between Warwick Blvd and the James River in both private and public green spaces. This change is part of a project of the community-based team of kids called The Ruling Robot Falcons.
The Ruling Robot Falcons, are a Virginia State Champion FIRST LEGO League robotics team. The team consists of Joshua Nichols and Luke Marston, homeschool students and friends from Newport News.
FIRST Robotics is an international program that aims to give students the opportunity to discover how exciting and rewarding science and technology can be. The FIRST LEGO League competition incorporates something kids naturally love—LEGOs—and encourages students to develop problem solving skills and teamwork as they design, build, and operate LEGO MINDSTORMS robots to meet the year’s engineering challenge. Teams are also judged on their research of a real world problem and their ability to present their research a creative way.
For the competition last year, the team created the Bee Byway, a project that identifies public areas that are one-third of a mile apart in Newport News, turning them into an interconnected web of bumble bee habitats so bees can travel existing wild spaces and thrive in our city. This team recognizes the impact urbanization and fragmentation has on the natural habitats necessary for our bee populations. They are establishing a floral corridor with a guarantee suitable habitat every one-third mile for our local pollinators.
The Virginia Living Museum has had the privilege of working with this group with several projects including assisting with the construction of bee boxes and plantings to controlling erosion. The Museum’s horticulture department has supplied plants for purchase and many for free to support the team’s work.
If you are interest in their current project, go to beebyway.com. There you will find how you can get involved by becoming a “waypoint” or “pit stop” for our native bees.
Joshua and Luke understand the importance of native plants and having several that together will supply blooms throughout the spring, summer, and fall.
Let the museum help you too! Purchase plants online during our Spring Native Plant Sale and receive advice about combinations that will help expand and fill the gaps along The Bee Byway. Check our social media accounts and website for more information on how you can purchase native plants online.
Horticulture Curator, Darl Fletcher, assisting the team.