April 21, 2011

Iowa Girl Scouts Invent Prosthetic Hand For 3-year-old Girl

And win up to $20,000 to patent it in inaugural First® Global Innovation Award

A group of Girl Scouts from Ames, Iowa, has invented a prosthetic hand device to help a three-year-old girl write and will receive up to $20,000 to patent their invention as the winner of the inaugural FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) Global Innovation

Award, presented by the X PRIZE Foundation.

The 11- to 13-year-old girls, an FLL all Girl Scout team named Flying Monkeys, topped 179 submissions from 16 countries with BOB-1, a prosthetic hand device that helps users with limb abnormalities hold, grip, stabilize or secure items.  The competition tasked FLL teams to explore bio-engineering and discover innovative ways to repair injuries, overcome genetic predispositions, and maximize the body's potential with the intended purpose of leading happier and healthier lives.  Inspired by their teammate, who has a limb difference, the girls created a prototype that has enabled a three-year-old born without fingers on one hand to hold a pencil for the first time.

The Flying Monkeys researched limb differences and decided to help three-year-old Danielle from Georgia after learning her story on www.sammysfriends.org.  They sent Danielle an instructional video of how to use the BOB-1 and included a video of their teammate playing the violin to show Danielle that she too could live without limits.  Danielle's family recently has adopted a five-year-old boy who also has a hand difference and hopes that the Flying Monkeys can help him with his own prosthetic device.

The Flying Monkeys are among over 200 Girl Scout robotics teams that have been formed around the country as part of Girl Scouts of the USA's increasing focus on science, technology, engineering and math. "Girl Scouts are showing the world that girls are ready to take their place as scientific leaders," says Kate Pickle, GSUSA's National Program Manager, STEM.

The award submissions were voted upon by the public and then judged by an expert panel to determine the most patentable ideas.  Close to 400,000 public votes were cast by nearly one million people who visited the award website from 145 countries.  As Global Innovation Award winners, the girls will participate in a private awards ceremony on June 16 at the United States Patent and trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, Va.


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