The FIRST Lego League, a nonprofit organization that inspires young people’s participation and interest in both science and technology, annually challenges students across the globe to come up with innovative ideas to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges for its FIRST Lego Global Innovation Award event.
This year, 26,000 teams of students from 80 countries participated in the Trash Trek-themed challenge, where they had to identify a problem in the waste and recycling industry, find out what’s currently being done to help resolve the issue and come up with a new solution for their selected problem.
During the sixth annual FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award held at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Va., 20 semi-finalist student teams from 21 countries shared their ideas with a panel of expert judges, who reviewed the teams’ submissions and selected one winning team and two runner-up teams. The winning team was awarded with a $20,000 cash prize, and the two runner-up teams each received a $5,000 cash prize.
This year’s winners:
Winner – The Incredibots of Gahanna, Ohio
The Incredibots developed Styro-Filter, a device which transforms Styrofoam waste into activated carbon, which can then be utilized for purifying water. This patent-pending product could help divert approximately two billion pounds of non-recyclable Styrofoam from U.S. landfills each year.
Runner-up – Cyber Tigers of Austin
Cyber Tigers created Water Soluble 6-Pack Rings, which dissolve when they are either submerged in water or exposed to an ample amount of rain. These 6-pack rings could be used by beverage companies to help minimize the amount of waste that ends up in oceans and harms wildlife.
Runner-up – Robostallions of Stuart, Fla.
In an effort to reduce the buildup of chip bags in landfills, Robostallions designed Chipsulation, which is insulation made from shredded chip bags.