Three-year-old preschooler Danielle Fairchild from Duluth, Ga., was born without fingers on one hand, which kept her from being able to grip a crayon or pencil. A prosthetic hand would have run the family a few thousand dollars — a big investment for something Danielle would have quickly outgrown.
So a team of researchers set out to design something affordable that would help the girl. What they came up with was the BOB-1, an adjustable, adaptable and inexpensive device that has, indeed, helped Danielle learn to write.
Okay, but here’s the amazing part: that team of researchers? Not a single high school diploma between them.
They’re a pack of tweens from Ames, Iowa, who call themselves the Flying Monkeys. They put their heads together and did this incredible thing.
The girls, Gaby Dempsey, Courtney Pohlen, Kate Murray, Maria Werner Anderson, Zoe Groat and Mackenzie Grewell, are members of a Girl Scouts troop. The Flying Monkey’s team took part in the troop’s FIRST Lego League Challenge, a robotics program for 9- to 16-year-olds worldwide (9- to 14-year-olds in the United States and Canada). FIRST, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is a not-for-profit set up to get kids excited about and involved with science and technology.
The 2010 competition, “Body Forward,” required teams to “research a current problem that scientists and engineers are trying to solve to heal, repair or improve the human body, and then to develop a new solution and share their findings,” according the League.
The Flying Monkeys won the challenge with their BOB-1 device. They’re using the $20,000 prize money to file a U.S. patent and to create a prototype.
This is the first year for the competition, which received 179 submissions from 56 countries. The two runners-up were also American teams, one from Wisconsin and the other from Massachussetts.
The First Lego League Challenge was underwritten by the X Prize Foundation.
Remarkable teen to screen 9/11 documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival.