June 17, 2011 11:44 ET

FIRST® LEGO® League Kid Inventors Meet Three-Year-Old Who Is Using Their Patent-Pending Prosthetic Device for the First Time

Meeting With Toddler and All-Girl Team The Flying Monkeys Part of Celebration for Inaugural FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award, Presented by X PRIZE Foundation

MANCHESTER, NH--(Marketwire - Jun 17, 2011) - After months of researching, designing and testing prosthetic hand devices to help a three-year-old hold a pencil and draw for the first time, an all-girl FIRST LEGO League team of kid inventors, The Flying Monkeys, finally met in person this week with the toddler who is successfully using their invention. The meeting culminated in a celebration of patent-pending kid inventions designed to help kids with their health-related issues during the inaugural FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award ceremony, June 16, hosted at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

FIRST is a not-for-profit organization that inspires an appreciation of science and technology in young people. The Flying Monkeys are a FIRST LEGO League team comprised of girls, ages 11 to 13. The team created the BOB-1, a prosthetic hand device to enable users with limb abnormalities to hold, stabilize or secure items.

The Flying Monkeys' inspiration for the invention is a three-year-old girl who was born with missing fingers on her dominant hand. The team's coach discovered this child's needs through correspondence with a Yahoo Group for families affected by congenital limb differences. Using Danielle's hand measurements, the FIRST LEGO League teammates invented the device from moldable plastic, a pencil grip and Velcro.

"I see the BOB-1 helping many kids... all over the world," said one of the FIRST LEGO League team members from The Flying Monkeys.

"With FIRST LEGO League, we are reaching kids at a really young age who are making inventions, and they are unbounded in what they think is possible," said Dean Kamen, iconic inventor and founder of FIRST.

The FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award, presented by the X PRIZE Foundation in collaboration with the USPTO, offered teams an opportunity to further develop and submit ideas stemming from their 2010 FIRSTLEGO League research projects.

The Flying Monkeys earned first prize and were honored at the ceremony with $20,000 from the X PRIZE Foundation to apply toward patenting the BOB-1; they already hold a provisional patent for the device. The runner-up teams were also honored on June 16. The winners and their inventions are:

  • First Place Winner: The Flying Monkeys of Ames, Iowa, invented a prosthetic hand device enabling users with limb abnormalities to hold, stabilize, or secure items
  • Runner-Up: The 4thMotor of East Troy, Wis., invented a non-invasive glucose monitoring device for kids with diabetes; using RFID technology and microchips to eliminate finger pricking
  • Runner-Up: Blue Gear Ticks of Lincoln, Mass., invented an unfurling bio-absorbable arterial stent that expands upon demand as children grow

"Today... help me salute my new heroes: The Flying Monkeys, The 4th Motor and The Blue Gear Ticks," said Robert K. Weiss, Vice Chairman and President, X PRIZE Foundation, during the ceremony. "The Global Innovation Award was a competition for these kids to create something really great, to be recognized... and to give real meaning to what these kids have accomplished."

The Global Innovation Award encouraged FIRST LEGO League kids to practice creative problem-solving, a crucial skill in addressing complex, real-world issues. The award ceremony celebrated the winning teams' creativity, compassion and innovation.

The award submissions were based on the 2010 FIRST LEGO League Challenge, BODY FORWARD, which tasked FIRST LEGO League teams in more than 56 countries to explore the cutting-edge world of 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.

FIRST LEGO League teams from 15 countries entered 179 submissions. The entries 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.

During the award ceremony, members from all three winning FIRST LEGO League teams revealed their paths to innovation during a kid inventor panel. The students also presented their inventions to patent experts, asked the experts for advice and visited the Inventor's Hall of Fame and Museum.

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About The X PRIZE Foundation
Founded in 1995, the X PRIZE Foundation is the leading non-profit organization solving the world's greatest challenges through creating and managing large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize competitions that stimulate investment in research and development worth far more than the prize itself. The organization motivates and inspires brilliant innovators from all disciplines and socio-economic sectors to endow their intellectual and financial capital for the benefit of humanity. The X PRIZE Foundation conducts competitions in four Prize Groups: Education & Global Development; Energy & Environment; Life Sciences; and Exploration. Past prizes include the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for sending the world's first private vehicle into space and back; and the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE for creating safe, affordable, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 MPG or energy equivalent (MPGe). Active prizes include the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, the $10 million Archon Genomics X PRIZE, and the $1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. For more information, visit

About the United States Patent and Trademark Office
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the Federal agency for granting U.S. patents and registering trademarks. In doing this, the USPTO fulfills the mandate of Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, of the Constitution that the Executive branch "promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing for limited times to inventors the exclusive right to their respective discoveries." The USPTO registers trademarks based on the Commerce Clause of the Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3). Under this system of protection, American industry has flourished. New products have been invented, new uses for old ones discovered, and employment opportunities created for millions of Americans. The strength and vitality of the U.S. economy depends directly on effective mechanisms that protect new ideas and investments in innovation and creativity. The continued demand for patents and trademarks underscores the ingenuity of American inventors and entrepreneurs. The USPTO is at the cutting edge of the Nation's technological progress and achievement.

About FIRST®
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and close to $15 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) and FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC® ) for high-school students, FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL® ) for 9 to 14-year-olds, (9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S. and Canada) and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for 6 to 9-year-olds. Gracious Professionalism is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to

FIRST®, the FIRST® logo, FIRST® Robotics Competition, FRC®, FIRST® Tech Challenge, and FTC® are registered trademarks, and Gracious Professionalism is a common law trademark of the United States Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST®). LEGO® and MINDSTORMS® are registered trademarks of The LEGO Group. FIRST® LEGO® League, Junior FIRST® LEGO® League, FLL®, BODY FORWARD®, and Jr.FLL® are jointly held trademarks of FIRST and The LEGO Group.

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