Monday, March 21, 2011

Girl Scouts Sweeping FIRST Lego League

Selling cookies, wearing badge-bearing sashes and designing a prosthetic hand - that's the reality of The Flying Monkeys! Iowa's Des Moines Register reports that The Flying Monkeys, a group of six girls, ages 11 to 13, won the state Innovation Award from the FIRST Lego League, an international organization that holds an annual competition for child inventors, for a creating a device that allows 3-year-old Danielle Fairchild to write.

Danielle was adopted by Fred and Dale Fairchild of Duluth, Ga. She has no fingers on her right hand. Although Flying Monkeys member Kate Murray, 13, has never met Fairchild, she knows her struggles. Kate was born with a thumb but no fingers on her left hand. Despite that condition, she began playing the violin five years ago using a device that clips to the bow and wraps around her left palm.The group decided to make a similar device for the Lego League competition (this year's event asked participants to design something to heal the human body). After posting messages on websites with information on limb abnormalities, the team received many responses, including one about Danielle.

The group visited an occupational therapist and a prosthetics manufacturer for advice. Designing replacement fingers proved too difficult, so the team instead focused on an attachment. The device - made out of a moldable plastic - features a pencil holder and a Velcro strap to attach the pencil holder to Danielle's hand. It was called "Bob 1." Using the Bob has also caused Danielle to have increased dexterity with her right hand, even when not employing the device. Before, Fairchild said, Danielle would use the hand like a flipper, but now she is able to use it to grasp and carry objects. The Flying Monkeys are pursuing a patent on the device.

In a similar story, Jess Weiner at jessweiner.com reports that featured Actionists® this week is an all girls robotics team named GENIUS! Actionists is a global online community that recognizes and connects individuals and organizations who are making a difference in the lives of others.

GENIUS – “Girls Exploring New Ideas Using Science”, is a robotics team from the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta. The team of six girls, ages 12-13, is the first all girls team to win 1st place at the Georgia State FIRST LEGO League Tournament.
GENIUS is one of 80 teams invited to participate in the FIRST World Festival in St. Louis in April 2011. Proving to be true Actionists®, for their research project, GENIUS chose to help out their friend, Quinn, a 10 year old boy who uses a wheelchair due to a neuromuscular disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Quinn had trouble seeing behind his wheelchair, making it difficult to backup. The team developed a backup system for Quinn’s chair using a camera and monitor. The girls raised money and worked with engineers from Georgia Tech, to install the camera system on Quinn’s wheelchair. The girls are planning to install another backup system on the wheelchair of a fellow Girl Scout.