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2011 FLL GLOBAL INNOVATION AWARD

XPRIZE FOUNDATION at the FIRST® LEGO® League Global Innovation Award Ceremony

You are never too young to innovate…

The Flying Monkeys, an FLL team from Ames, Iowa, captures the Global Innovation Award and a check for $20,000 presented by the XPRIZE Foundation. In this photo (l to r) Back Row: Jon Dudas, President, FIRST; Andy Bell, LEGO Education Robotics Manager; Steven Canvin, LEGO MINDSTORMS Community Manager; Anna Maenhout, Director, FLL and Jr. FLL; David Kappos, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO; Dean Kamen, Founder, FIRST and XPRIZE Foundation Trustee; Robert K Weiss, Co-Chairman & President, XPRIZE Foundation. Second Row: Laurie Bertenthal, Government Regulatory Specialist at Rockwell Collins; Coach Claire Bassett; Flying Monkeys team members (Gaby D., Zoe G., Courtney P., Maria W. A., Mackenzie G., Kate M.); Coach Melissa Murray. Front row: Danielle Fairchild, beneficiary of the Bob-1 device.

The Award Ceremony for the FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) Global Innovation Award presented by the XPRIZE Foundation was held on Thursday, June 16th, 2011, at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, VA. The Foundation was proud to be the Presenting Sponsor of the inaugural Global Innovation Award because its goal to encourage youth to create inventions to improve the lives of others had such strong alignment with the Foundation’s mission to bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity through incentivized competition.

The XPRIZE Foundation awarded the winning team, The Flying Monkeys from Ames, IA, with a $20,000 check to enable the team to patent their invention, the BOB-1 prosthetic hand device that is already improving the life of a three-year-old little girl, Danielle Fairchild, from Duluth, GA. The two runner-up teams are The 4th Motor from East Troy, MI, for their invention of a noninvasive glucose monitoring system complete with an iPad app, and the Blue Gear Ticks from Lincoln, MA, which created an unfurling bio-absorbable arterial stent for growing children.

Speakers addressing the 130+ attendees included Dean Kamen, Founder of FIRST and an XPRIZE Foundation Board of Trustee; David Kappos, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO; and Robert K. Weiss, Vice-Chairman & President of the XPRIZE Foundation. Following the award ceremony, representatives from each of the three teams led a Kid Inventor Panel where they answered questions about their inventions and experiences in the competition. All of the teams agreed that one of the main points learned had in the Body Forward Challenge was that kids really can make a difference. A key message throughout the ceremony was that youth are never too young to innovate. 

The Kid Inventor Panel, made up of two representatives from The Flying Monkeys (Mackenzie G. & Kate M.), The 4th Motor (Rachel H. & Lauren H.), and the Blue Gear Ticks (Anthony B. & Claire T.), answer questions from the crowd

XPRIZE Foundation Inspires Kids at FIRST® Championships

The XPRIZE Foundation attended the FIRST® Championship in Saint Louis, MO, April 26-30, to promote the FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) Global Innovation Award for which the Foundation is the presenting sponsor. The XPRIZE Foundation booth at the FIRST® Championship gave attendees insight into the current competitions as well as showcased the Foundation’s education outreach initiatives including creating key chains in the form of DNA sequences in support of the $10 million Archon Genomics XPRIZE. Also featured in the exhibit was the world’s largest LEGO DNA sculpture, the “Building Bricks of Life,” commissioned by the XPRIZE Foundation. Created by famed brick artist, Nathan Sawaya, the sculpture stands just under seven feet tall.

The MoonBots Challenge exhibit, an education outreach program of the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, displayed the two winning LEGO MINDSTORMS® robots from last year’s competition. Literature about MoonBots 2.0, this year’s competition, was available to build awareness and interest that challenges students, ranging from ages 9 – 18, to create simulated lunar rovers using LEGO bricks and MINDSTORM components. The Challenge is modeled after the real life rovers competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE.

As a culmination of the FLL championship activities, XPRIZE Foundation Vice-Chairman and President, Robert K. Weiss, addressed the 4,000+ audience of FLL student teams, parents, sponsors and FIRST® representatives assembled at the FLL Closing Award Ceremonies. During his speech, he emphasized the importance of innovation and congratulated the teams on their success.

XPRIZE Foundation’s Alan Zack helps a girl re-create a DNA strand on a keychain at the FIRST® Championship.

A team member prepares a robot to compete in the FLL competition.


Kjeld Kristiansen, Owner and Deputy Chairman of the LEGO Group, stopped by the XPRIZE booth to hear about an invention from the Dragoneer Medics FLL team.

XPRIZE Foundation’s Vice-Chairman and President, Robert K. Weiss, addresses the 4,000+ audience at the FLL Closing Award Ceremonies.

Kids cheer on their team at during the FLL competition.


Winners of last year’s MoonBots Challenge displayed their lunar rovers made of LEGO bricks and MINDSTORM components at the XPRIZE Foundation booth.

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