2014 FLL Global Innovation Award

XPRIZE and the Heritage Provider Network Inspire Kids with the FIRST®LEGO® League 2014 Global Innovation Award

Funded by a generous grant from Dr. Dick Merkin, President and CEO of Heritage Provider Network, XPRIZE is once again sponsoring the FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) Global Innovation Award. The award recognizes a group of young inventors who have applied outstanding innovation and creativity in solving a particular problem. XPRIZE is proud to be the Presenting Sponsor and Founding Partner of the award.

"The FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award inspires and rewards truly talented kids,” said Dr. Merkin. "At Heritage we try to stimulate innovation and imagination. As Einstein said, ‘Imagination is everything. It is a preview of life’s coming attractions.’ These kids are our future leaders, creators, innovators and imagineers. We are happy to support this important XPRIZE initiative, which will help launch them on their life’s journey.”

The 2014 FLL Theme: NATURE’S FURY

This year’s competition challenged FLL teams to devise ways to explore the topic of natural disasters and discover what can be done when intense natural events meet the places people live and work, and play. Teams’ innovations seek to help people prepare, stay safe, or rebuild after a natural disaster. The winners received their award at a special ceremony on June 3, 2014, at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia.





Their invention is a balloon-based, long-range notification sign that can be used to indicate where to find aid in the event of a natural disaster when traditional infrastructure is not available. They consulted with experts in disaster planning and response and discovered that a good solution for communicating the location of disaster aid, when there is no power, telephones, cell phones, Internet, radio, or TV was desperately needed. Their straightforward solution of suspending a large sign from a helium balloon that could be seen from very long distances to indicate aid centers proved inexpensive, portable, re-usable and employable without requiring power or special expertise. They built a full scale (100-foot high), working model and deployed it in high winds, snowstorms, and extreme cold. They even demonstrated it to state emergency management officials.



Their idea was born from the tsunamis that happened in Japan and Chile where people experienced disorientation and not knowing where to go in most cases. Their project seeks to change the current signage and replace it with retroreflectors on roads, by adding LED lights, which will flash in sequence. Retroreflectors would be placed on major streets in order to be seen by many people. These devices are tough enough to actually be used in the streets. They would consist of 3-color LED: red which would indicate that you are in a high risk area, yellow lights would indicate that you are in a relatively rough and the green area would indicate that you are out of risk. Lights would be powered by small photovoltaic panels on each site. The project would also be connected to other institutions such as the National Seismological Centre to make the system more robust.

ROBOTIC RAIDERS (Williamsburg, Iowa)

Their invention is the “Cyclone Survivor”, an educational board game that uses federal and local information to educate players on how to prepare for, survive, and recover from a tornado. The game includes “Challenge” cards, which have multiple-choice questions to answer, or “Chance” cards, which send the player forward or backward on the board. The object of the game is to collect miniature “Emergency Gear” to place in the player’s “Emergency Kit”. The player with the most gear at the end of the game wins! “Cyclone Survivor” would be a great interactive tool that could be added to the curriculum at their school or any other school. It can even be customized to help educate students learn about other natural disasters such as ice storms, earthquakes or hurricanes.


Congratulations to The Brain Busters and the runners up on your creativity, compassion, and innovation in addressing some of today’s most challenging issues around natural disasters.

Read about the 2013 FLL Global Innovation Award >>



FIRST was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. Based in Manchester, NH, the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.

FIRST founder Dean Kamen is an inventor, entrepreneur, and tireless advocate for science and technology. His passion and determination to help young people discover the excitement and rewards of science and technology are the cornerstones of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).

Generously sponsored by the Heritage Provider Network.

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