Inaugural FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award


The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) hosted the FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award ceremony on June 16, 2011. Awards were presented to teams of young inventors, ages 6 to 14, who developed an original, creative and efficient solution to a real-world problem in the category of biomedical engineering.

The X PRIZE Foundation awarded the $20,000 first prize to the Flying Monkeys, an all-girl team from Ames, Iowa, after evaluating more than 179 entries from sixteen countries around the world. The team developed a comfortable and cost-effective hand device that allows the wearer to grip and stabilize small objects such as a pencil or fork. Following extensive hand and arm prosthetic research, the BOB-1 Hand Device enabled a toddler born without fingers to hold a pencil and write for the first time. The winning team has filed a provisional patent application and will utilize the prize money to pursue full patent protection. The Flying Monkeys journey was chronicled by ABC News (Video).

Two additional teams were also honored at the ceremony. The 4th Motor, another all-girl team from East Troy, Wis., invented a non-invasive glucose monitoring system composed of an implantable radio frequency microchip and a child's wristwatch. The team's invention was inspired by diabetic children across the globe who must prick their fingers daily in order to monitor their blood-glucose levels. The team filed for a provisional patent application this year.

The Blue Gear Ticks from Lincoln, Mass., invented an unfurling bio-absorbable arterial stent for children. Through the use of electromagnetic energy absorption technology, the stent expands upon demand without surgery and dissolves when no longer needed. This invention was inspired by the team's 15-year-old mentor, who has many stents as a result of a congenital heart defect.

Dean Kamen, National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee and founder of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), USPTO Director David Kappos and Robert Weiss, Co-Chairman and President of X Prize, presented awards to all three teams.

The Flying Monkeys

Blue Gear Ticks

The 4th Motors