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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez, Kevin Jackson, Peter Silva

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Socially-Aware Students Design Innovative Solutions to Mitigate Effects of Natural Disasters in 4th Annual FIRST® LEGO® League Global Innovation Award Contest

FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a not-for-profit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen, announced that FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) teams across the globe competed to win worldwide recognition for their socially-focused inventions in the fourth annual FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award, presented by XPRIZE. The FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award encouraged teams, comprised of youths ages 9-16, to submit ideas stemming from the 2013-2014 season’s NATURE’S FURYSM Challenge which tasked teams in nearly 80 countries to explore natural disasters and develop innovative ways to prepare, stay safe, and rebuild following these often devastating events. To honor the humanitarian work efforts of all FIRST LEGO League students, DEKA Research & Development and FIRST will donate Kamen’s Slingshot™ water purification system to a country in need.

“For the past four years, the FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award has given young people a platform for sharing their innovative ideas with the world,” said Kamen, President of DEKA Research & Development. “We want kids to know that not only do their ideas matter, but their solutions for dealing with natural disasters can truly help people survive and rebuild after destructive events. Our hope is that this Award will inspire these students to be the problem-solvers who will make the future a better place to live.”

Developed by Kamen’s DEKA Research & Development, the Slingshot technology is a vapor compression distillation system capable of purifying any type of dirty water – river water, ocean water, and even raw sewage – into clean, drinkable water.

Today, more than one billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and approximately 2.5 billion don’t have adequate sanitation. Slingshot delivers approximately 800 liters of clean water daily at the hourly electricity cost of less than a standard handheld hair dryer (1kWh).

More than 500 FLL teams submitted ideas for the 2014 FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award. The winning team will receive a cash award of $20,000. The two runners-up will receive $5,000 each. The top three teams will be present for an awards ceremony at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, Va. on June 3, 2014. In addition to declaring the winning team, Kamen will announce the country that will receive the Slingshot.

The three finalist teams, determined by a panel of expert judges, were recently announced at the FIRST Championship in St. Louis:

Robotic Raiders, Williamsburg, Iowa, USA
Invention: Cyclone Survivor Board Game

The Brain Busters, Sherborn, Mass., USA
Invention: Balloon-Based Notification Sign

RobotTec, Santiago, CHILE
Invention: Tsunami Evacuation System

XPRIZE has returned as Presenting Sponsor of the Global Innovation Award for the fourth consecutive year. XPRIZE attracts the world’s top innovators and supports them in tackling the grand challenges faced by society.

The FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award Partners in Innovation Sponsors include: Booz Allen Hamilton, John Deere, Rockwell Collins, International Association of Emergency Managers, and Qualcomm. Edison Nation is the Go-To Market Sponsor to help winning teams take their product from idea to store shelves. The FLL Global Innovation Award is presented in cooperation with the National Building Museum and the USPTO.

About FIRST LEGO League

FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is an international program for 9 to 16-year-old children (9 to 14 in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico) created in a partnership between FIRST and The LEGO Group in 1998 to get children excited about science and technology and teach them valuable employment and life skills. Using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® technologies and LEGO Education materials, children work alongside adult Coaches to design, build, and program autonomous robots and create an innovative solution to a problem as part of their research project. After eight intense weeks, the competition season culminates at high-energy, sports-like tournaments. Like any other organized “sport,” teams also fundraise, create a team identity, and go on field trips.

The LEGO Group, Founding Partner of FIRST LEGO League, has supported the growth and success of FLL through ongoing funding and donations for more than a dozen years as the program has grown into a global competition. In the 2013-2014 FLL season, the program reached nearly 300,000 youth worldwide.

About FIRST®

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $19 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC® ) for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL® ) for Grades 4-8; and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for Grades K-3. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org.

FIRST® and the FIRST® logo are common law trademarks, of the United States Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST®). LEGO® and MINDSTORMS® are registered trademarks of the LEGO Group. FIRST® LEGO® League, FLL®, and NATURE’S FURY℠ are jointly held trademarks of FIRST and the LEGO Group. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. ©2014 FIRST and the LEGO Group. All rights reserved.

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