FIRST Recognizes Students for Innovation in Waste Management in Sixth Annual FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award Contest Presented by XPRIZE

Ohio Team Takes Top Prize for Styrofoam Waste Converter

ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 23, 2016 – Students’ creative ideas to improve waste management became award-winning inventions at the sixth annual FIRST® LEGO® League Global Innovation Award presented by XPRIZE® ceremony, held yesterday at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, Virginia. Dean Kamen, inventor and founder of FIRST® , honored 20 FIRST® LEGO® League teams for their innovative solutions during the ceremony which included parents, students, Coaches, patent experts, Sponsors, and waste management experts. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a not-for-profit organization that inspires young people’s participation and interest in science and technology.

FIRST LEGO League teams from 21 countries across the globe submitted their inventions for the FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Awardpresented by XPRIZE, the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to help solve some of the world’s grandest challenges. A panel of expert judges reviewed the submissions and then selected a winning team and two runner-up teams after meeting with teams over the course of the two day event. The winning team received a cash award of $20,000 and the two runner-up teams each received $5,000.

WINNER – Styro-Filter by The Incredibots of Gahanna, Ohio

The Styro-Filter is a device in which Styrofoam waste is successfully converted into activated carbon that can be used to purify water. Using a low temperature, enclosed process to carbonize Styrofoam and etch it using chemical reagents, the process produces activated carbon with a surface area of over 100 square meters per gram. The activated carbon is then placed into the Styro-Filter, producing purified water. The patent-pending Styro-Filter process has the potential to reduce the nearly two billion pounds of non-recyclable Styrofoam that is thrown away each year in the United States.

RUNNER-UP – Water Soluble 6-Pack Rings by Cyber Tigers of Austin, Tex.

The Water Soluble 6-Pack Rings were developed as a solution to issues facing marine wildlife. The Cyber Tigers found that marine wildlife were being harmed and dying as a result of being trapped in or ingesting traditional 6-pack rings made by beverage companies to hold plastic bottles or cans. The current plastic rings on the market take months to degrade, and even then small pieces can be eaten by marine wildlife, including birds and turtles. The Water Soluble 6-Pack Rings dissolve when either submerged in water or exposed to enough rain to where they completely dissolve, making them safe for the animals and the environment.

RUNNER-UP – Chipsulation by Robostallions of Stuart, Fl.

Chipsulation was developed in response to the problem of chip bags collecting in landfills – the polyethylene contained in chip bags prevents them from being recyclable. Chipsulation is insulation made from shredded chip bags, offering better and cheaper insulation. By shredding the chip bags and turning them into insulation, Chipsulation prevents the build-up of chip bags in landfills. 

2015-2016 FIRST LEGO League Challenge

As part of the 2015-2016 TRASH TREKSM Challenge, FIRST LEGO League teams (students ages 9-16) in 80 countries were asked to explore the fascinating world of trash; from collection, to sorting, to smart production and reuse. More than 233,000 children worldwide learned there is more to your trash than meets the eye.

“We’re proud to support FIRST. There are so many ways for NRG and our employees to participate – whether through financial support or mentorship, the students win and so do our employees. FIRST isn’t just about robotics, it's about making a positive impact in our communities. It’s incredible for our mentors to be able to share our real world expertise while helping develop important life skills for these students.” Jennifer Wallace, Senior Vice President, NRG and FIRST Mentor.

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 sixth consecutive year. XPRIZE attracts the world’s top innovators and supports them in tackling the grand challenges faced by society.

“We believe that solutions to the problems facing humanity can come from anyone and anywhere. I hope that these innovative and creative teams will continue to inspire other kids, as they might come up with an idea that can truly change the world.” Yvonne Cooper, Senior Director, Marketing and Communications, XPRIZE.

As part of the event, the 20 Semi-Finalist teams attended a field trip to FIRST Strategic Partner Booz Allen Hamilton’s new Innovation Center – a multi-functional, co-working space designed to solve global challenges through interdisciplinary engagement and boundless collaboration.

Global Innovation Award Partners in Innovation Sponsors include: Booz Allen Hamilton, John Deere, Rockwell Collins, NRG Energy, Inc., and LEGO Education, in cooperation with the USPTO.

Find more information about FIRST LEGO League and the Global Innovation Award.

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 $25 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League for Grades 4-8; and FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. for Grades K-4. 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