Science & Technology
Dean Kamen Recognizes Students for Innovative Solutions to Manage Effects of Natural Disasters in Fourth Annual FIRST® LEGO® League Global Innovation Award Contest PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Michelle Heard   
Wednesday, 04 June 2014 13:39

Team from Massachusetts Takes Top Prize for Balloon-Based Notification Sign

MANCHESTER, N.H., June 3, 2014 – Students’ creative ideas for how to prepare, stay safe, and rebuild following natural disasters became award-winning inventions at the fourth annual FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) Global Innovation Award ceremony, held at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, Va. Dean Kamen, inventor and founder of FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a not-for-profit organization that inspires young people’s participation and interest in science and technology, honored three FIRST® LEGO® League teams for their contemporary solutions during the ceremony which included parents, kids, Coaches, patent experts, Sponsors, and natural disaster experts.


More than 500 FIRST LEGO League teams across the globe submitted their inventions for the FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award, presented by XPRIZE.  A panel of expert judges reviewed the submissions, narrowed the list to three finalists, and then selected a winning team and two runner-up teams. The winning team received a cash award of $20,000 and the two runner-up teams each received $5,000.


WINNER – Balloon-Based Notification Sign by The Brain Busters of Sherborn, Massachusetts

The Balloon-Based Notification Sign indicates where to find aid after a natural disaster, when traditional infrastructure is not available. The large sign is suspended from a helium balloon that can be seen from very long distances and deployed in high winds, snow storms, and extreme cold.    


RUNNER-UP – Cyclone Survivor Board Game by the Robotic Raiders of Williamsburg, Iowa

Cyclone Survivor is 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 object of the game is to collect miniature Emergency Gear to place in the player’s Emergency Kit. The interactive tool can be customized to help educate students learn about other natural disasters such as ice storms, earthquakes or hurricanes.


RUNNER-UP – Tsunami Evacuation System by RobotTec of Santiago, Chile

The Tsunami Evacuation System appraises disorientation and not knowing where to go in a tsunami, and changes the current signage by replacing it with retro-reflectors on roads and adding LED lights that will flash in sequence. Retro-reflectors would be placed on major streets in order to be seen by many people and emit three-color LED lights: red for high risk area, yellow for relatively rough area, green for out of risk. Lights would be powered by small photovoltaic panels on each site and connected to national systems to activate automatically to events that could cause a tsunami.


As part of the 2013-2014 NATURE’S FURYSM Challenge, FIRST LEGO League teams (youths ages 9-16) in nearly 80 countries were asked to explore natural disasters and develop innovative ways to mitigate the effects of these often devastating events. Teams were then encouraged to submit their ideas for a chance to win the fourth annual FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award.


“These students continue to amaze me with their ideas and passion for helping others. When young people are given a platform and support for exploring answers to today’s pressing social problems, they are able to create innovative solutions that will ultimately improve lives,” said Kamen, who is also president of DEKA Research & Development. “Today, they have shown that solving problems together is a fun, rewarding adventure.”


FIRST LEGO League partners with Award Sponsors to advance a common goal: fostering innovative problem-solvers. XPRIZE was Presenting Sponsor of the FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award for the fourth consecutive year. XPRIZE attracts the world’s top innovators and supports them in tackling the grand challenges faced by society.


“XPRIZE is honored to be the Presenting Sponsor of the FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award,” said Alan Zack, senior director, Marketing & Communications, XPRIZE. “All of the finalist teams here today have proven that through competition you can create great results. Each of you came together as a team to produce something, and this teamwork was vital to your success. You may go on to solve the grand challenges, whatever they may be – and when you do, you will be doing it as part of a team.”


The FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award Partners in Innovation Sponsors include: Booz Allen Hamilton, John Deere, Rockwell Collins, International Association of Emergency Managers, and Qualcomm. Edison Nation is the Go-To Market Sponsor to help winning teams take their product from idea to store shelves. The FLL Global Innovation Award is presented in cooperation with the National Building Museum and the USPTO.


For more information about FIRST LEGO League and the Global Innovation Award, please visit

About FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®)

FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is an international program for 9 to 16-year-old children (9 to 14 in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico) created in a partnership between FIRST and The LEGO Group in 1998 to get children excited about science and technology and teach them valuable employment and life skills. Using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® technologies and LEGO Education materials, children work alongside adult Coaches to design, build, and program autonomous robots and create an innovative solution to a problem as part of their research project. After eight intense weeks, the competition season culminates at high-energy, sports-like tournaments. Like any other organized “sport,” teams also fundraise, create a team identity, and go on field trips.

The LEGO Group, Founding Partner of FIRST LEGO League, has supported the growth and success of FIRST LEGO League through ongoing funding and donations for more than a dozen years as the program has grown into a global competition. In the 2013-2014 FLL season, the program reached nearly 300,000 youth worldwide.

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 over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $20 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC® ) for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL® ) for Grades 4-8; and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for Grades K-3. 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

Iowa Student Inventors Could Win $20,000 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Michelle Heard   
Monday, 02 June 2014 10:51

A group of student inventors from Iowa is set to participate in the fourth annual FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award program for a chance to win a $20,000 cash prize! The Robotic Raiders of Williamsburg, Iowa is one of three FIRST LEGO League teams (from a pool of more than 500 teams from around the world) selected to present their innovative creations June 3 at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, VA (outside of Washington, DC). The winning team will get a $20,000 cash prize to use toward bringing their invention to market. Each of the two runners-up teams will get $5,000 each to continue development of their inventions.

FIRST, a not-for-profit founded by inventor Dean Kamen, challenged FIRST LEGO League participants, students ages 9-16 from around the world, to explore natural disasters and develop innovative ways to help people prepare, stay safe, and rebuild following these events

The Robotic Raiders invented a Cyclone Survivor Board Game, an educational board game that uses federal and local information to educate players on how to prepare for, survive and recover from a tornado.

USDA Announces Funding for Advanced Communications Technology in Rural Areas PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Thursday, 22 May 2014 15:29

WASHINGTON, May 22, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is accepting applications for grants to enhance telecommunications and broadcast services in rural areas.

"This funding will help small, rural communities across the country gain access to communications technologies to improve health, education and other services," Vilsack said. "It will help open doors to the global marketplace. It will deliver specialized medical care and educational services. It will ensure that public television stations can fully convert to digital signals and transmit public safety, health, educational and cultural programming in isolated areas."

The funding is available from the Community Connect Grant Program, the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, and the Public Television Station Digital Transition Grant Program.

Through the Community Connect Grant Program, USDA plans to provide up to $13 million to fund broadband in unserved areas to support economic growth and deliver enhanced educational, health care and public safety services. Awardees must serve an area where broadband does not exist, provide a community center with broadband access, and offer broadband service to all residential and business customers. Details are on page 29405 of today's Federal Register.

USDA has had many successes through this program. Since it was created in 2003, USDA has approved more than $142 million in more than 240 Community Connect projects to bring broadband service to rural communities that lacked it.

For example, Rural Development awarded @Link Services, LLC a $544,164 Community Connect Grant to provide broadband services to Lima, Okla. Many institutions there have benefited, including the new volunteer fire department, the K-12 school, and the new community center.

Also in a notice in today's Federal Register, USDA is making available up to $19.3 million in Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program grants to fund access to rural education, training and health care resources. The DLT program finances telecommunications-enabled equipment and advanced technologies for people who live and work in rural areas. Since 2009, USDA has invested almost $150 million in the program. These investments complement other USDA efforts to improve rural communications.

Details of Distance Learning funding being made available today are on page 29399 of the Federal Register.

In the Public Television Station Digital Transition Grant Program, USDA will provide up to $2 million as part of the Department's continued support of rural telecommunications and broadcast services. Funds can be used to acquire, lease or install equipment or software to complete the transition to digital broadcast signals.

While rural stations broadcast their main transmitter signal digitally, many also have translators serving small communities or isolated areas, and these still need to transition from analog to digital. Some rural areas also need fill-in translators, in cases when the signal reception from a main transmitter is lost. These Public Television grants will support those stations to ensure all rural households and businesses receive public television station transmissions. Details are on page 29409 of the Federal Register.

USDA will offer special consideration to Community Connect and Distance Learning and Telemedicine applications that contain at least one end-user site within a trust area or a Tribal jurisdictional area.

President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.

USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users)


Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds announce Iowa’s National Youth Science Camp Delegation PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Wednesday, 14 May 2014 09:04

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced today that Ayenna Cagaanan and Amy Huynh have been selected as two of the most promising young scientific leaders in Iowa’s 2014 high school graduating class.  At the invitation of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia, they will participate as delegates to the 2014 National Youth Science Camp held at Camp Pocahontas near Bartow in the eastern mountains of West Virginia’s Potomac Highlands, and close to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank and within the unique wilderness areas of the Monongahela National Forest.

Amy Gia Han Huynh, of Ankeny, is a leader in academics and extracurricular activities. Academically Amy is on the honor roll, has received academic letters, participated in Science Bowl and Moody’s Mega Math Challenge. She is co-president of the student council and participated in the Greater Des Moines Chapter of National Council of Youth Leadership, being recognized as a youth leader in central Iowa. Amy participated in Iowa State University’s microbiology workshop, attended Iowa Lakeside Laboratory gaining experience in the field and the laboratory. In 2009 she represented Iowa and the United States as a People to People student ambassador in Greece, Italy and France. She is a member of the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Society. She served as a member and captain of the cheerleading team at Ankeny High School. Amy says, “Science and innovation propel technological advances that help us live more comfortably…The untapped wealth of knowledge in the science field awaits discovery by eager scientists among the youth of today.”

Ayenna Pimentel Cagaanan, of Fort Dodge, is an enthusiastic learner in her core academic classes, elective music courses, and extra-curricular activities. She is a school leader, member of the Dodger Senate and is the Senior Class President. She has served as Officer, Secretary, and President in Junior Civitan, a member of the debate team, and speech contestant. Ayenna competes on Junior Engineering Technical Society teams and is the 12th grade Science Quiz Bowl Team Captain. She is also a musician serving as Drum Major in 12th grade and a member of Marching Band since 10th grade. She has participated in Wind Ensemble (clarinet and piano), and Jass Band and a National Council on Youth Leadership finalist. Ayenna says, “I want to bring back my National Youth Science Camp experiences to Fort Dodge to encourage other teenagers to participate in STEM activities.”

Established in 1963 as a part of West Virginia’s Centennial Celebration, the National Youth Science Camp is an annual summer forum where two delegates representing each state exchange ideas with leading scientists and other professionals from academic and corporate worlds.  Lectures and hands-on research projects are presented by scientists from across the United States who work on some of the most provocative topics in science today - topics such as fractal geometry, the human genome project, global climate change, the history of the universe, the fate of our rain forests, and robotics.  Delegates to the NYSC are challenged to explore new areas in the biological and physical sciences, art, and music with resident staff members.  Delegates also present seminars covering their own areas of research and interest.

The National Youth Science Camp’s diverse academic program is complemented by an outdoor recreation program, which leverages the Science Camp’s location in the Monongahela National Forest. The Science Camp’s outdoor program offers backpacking, caving, rock climbing, mountain biking and kayaking.

Ayenna and Amy will travel to Charleston, West Virginia, on June 27, 2014, and will return on Sunday, July 20, 2014, after participating in this innovative educational program.  The National Youth Science Foundation®, based in Charleston, West Virginia, covers all expenses, including travel. More information about National Youth Science Camp is available online at and



Conference on Fossil Resources kicks off at SDSM&T PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Dani Doran   
Wednesday, 14 May 2014 08:19

RAPID CITY, S.D. (May 13, 2014) – The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is hosting the 2014 Conference on Fossil Resources, attracting nearly 120 paleontological experts from around the world.

The conference begins today and runs through Thursday. The focus will be on partnerships between federal and non-federal agencies in managing fossils found on public lands. The university’s Museum of Geology has been a repository for federal, tribal and state fossils for many years

“We are considered by several of the agencies to be a poster child for good professional relations between museums and agencies, especially now that our Paleontology Research Laboratory is open,” said Sally Shelton, associate director at the museum and conference chair.

The conference will highlight the history of Fossil Cycad National Monument, between Hot Springs and Edgemont, the only National Park Service unit ever decommissioned because its main resource was removed or stolen. Conference attendees will travel to the site on Wednesday afternoon following a moderated morning session on the site’s history and future.

Other conference highlights include sessions on monitoring/mitigation paleontology, when experts work to salvage fossils from construction, highway and industrial sites, as well as law enforcement issues when sites are damaged and fossils are stolen.

Attendees will come from throughout the United States, Canada, Uruguay and the United Kingdom. Representatives of the Cheyenne River Reservation’s and Pine Ridge Reservation’s Tribal Historic and Cultural Heritage Preservation offices will discuss paleontology resource management issues. “One of our priorities is training the next generation of tribal paleontologists in this region,” Shelton said.

About a dozen School of Mines paleontology students are highly involved in the conference. The School of Mines teaches the only graduate/undergraduate course in paleontology resource management in the country, preparing students for industry jobs in monitoring paleontology, federal, state agency and tribal jobs, and paleontology law enforcement jobs.

“I am very proud of the students. They will get a terrific chance to talk to and network with the experts in these fields,” Shelton said. The School of Mines has been asked to contribute to a textbook on mitigation paleontology. The book’s lead authors will attend the conference.

A reception celebrating the life of longtime museum volunteer Bill Schurmann and an announcement of a new exhibit/program made possible by his estate gift will be at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Museum of Geology, third floor of the O’Harra Building. The conference is dedicated to the memory of Schurmann in honor of his many years of volunteer service to the museum and the School of Mines.

One of the notable guests will include Vernon Bump, son of early museum director James Dye Bump.

The conference is sponsored by the Museum of Geology at the School of Mines, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service.

The three-day conference kicks off with welcome remarks at 8 a.m. in the Surbeck Center ballroom. Today’s events also include the keynote address, presentations and posters. Wednesday’s events focus on the fossil Cycad National Monument and also include discussions on mitigation paleontology. Thursday’s events include a law enforcement discussion.


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