Seven FIRST Students to be Recognized for Innovative Ideas, Teamwork and Patent-pending Inventions that Help Improve Lives

MANCHESTER, N.H., Feb. 6, 2012FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a not-for-profit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, announced that six FIRST students have been invited by President Obama to attend the second annual White House Science Fair, February 7, for their achievements in robotics engineering, invention and scientific innovation. Approximately 100 students from across the country will attend the event.

President Obama will celebrate the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions nationwide. The President will also announce key steps that the Administration and its partners are taking to help more students excel in math and science, and earn degrees in these subjects.

During the White House Science Fair, the President will salute the following FIRST students:

  • Three FIRST teams who won the 2011 FIRST® Robotics Competition Championship: Team 254 “The Cheesy Poofs” from San Jose, Calif.; Team 111 “WildStang” from Schaumburg, Ill.; and Team 973 “Greybots” from Atascadero, Calif. Students who will represent the winning alliance will include: John Harrison Drake of Arlington Heights, Ill; Eric D. Bakan of Mountain View, Calif.; and Sean Wesley Murphy of Atascadero, Calif.
  • A second FIRST program team, FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) “The Flying Monkeys,” an all-girl team from Ames, Iowa, and the winners of the inaugural FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award (2011), will include representatives: Kate Murray, Gaby Dempsey, and Mackenzie Grewell, all of Ames, who were part of a team that designed, tested, and produced a prosthetic hand device (now patent-pending) to help a three-year-old hold a pencil and draw for the first time.
  • Members of the distinguished ‘Christopher Columbus Award’ winning team, from Mont Vernon, N.H., represented by Anthony Edvalson, will also be representing FIRST. The team’s award-winning work was based on its research project from the FIRST LEGO League “Smart Move” season in 2010/11.

“It’s an honor to have students from two of our four FIRST programs recognized at the White House,” said Jon Dudas, president of FIRST.  “Kids are natural innovators and FIRST helps kids create innovative solutions to real-world problems within an intense, fun robotics sports competition model.”

The President will view exhibits of student work, ranging from breakthrough research to new inventions, followed by remarks to an audience of students, science educators and business leaders on the importance of STEM education to the country’s economic future. The White House Science Fair will be live streamed on

FIRST Student Responses on Going to the White House:

  • FIRST LEGO League student, Mackenzie Grewell from Ames, Iowa, “FIRST has changed my life through all of the things that we have been able to do because of FIRST, like going to California and now the White House!”
  • FIRST LEGO League student, Kate Murray from Ames, Iowa, “I want to be a mechanical engineer when I grow up. I want to design cars to be more fuel efficient and/or rely entirely on wind or solar energy. I am super excited to go to the White House!”
  • FIRST Robotics Competition student and Team Captain, Sean Wesley Murphy of Atascadero, Calif., “I am greatly honored. I feel that I have been representing FIRST for a long time on a smaller scale and now on a big scale, and I am excited to do so at the White House.”
  • FIRST Robotics Competition student John Harrison Drake of Arlington Heights, Ill., “This is a once in a lifetime experience. It’s special because we have been invited by President Obama because of our team’s accomplishments. It is also significant because we strive to be a model for FIRST teams through our Gracious Professionalism™ and the way we organize our teams.”

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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 more than $14 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., Canada, and Mexico) 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

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Media Contacts:
Cheryl Walsh, FIRST
Ph. 978-407-8028