Youth Inventions to Enhance Safety and Accessibility in Physical Activity Recognized at 2021 FIRST Global Innovation Awards powered by Star Wars: Force for Change


MANCHESTER, N.H., June 30, 2021 – Students from around the world were recognized today for their exemplary societal solutions at the eleventh annual FIRST® Global Innovation Awards powered by Star Wars: Force for Change, which was held as a remote broadcast on FIRSTtv on Twitch. Sixty FIRST teams (including 20 FIRST® Robotics Competition teams, 20 FIRST® Tech Challenge teams, and 20 FIRST® LEGO® League teams) made up of students ages 9-18, representing 11 countries, were honored for their innovative solutions during the ceremony.

During the three-day virtual event, which served as the culmination of a months-long project focused on innovation in the physical fitness space, the sixty teams met with experts to learn about entrepreneurship, user experience design, marketing, and intellectual property. Students got a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge from Disney Imagineers, including the opportunity to learn from their real-life case studies. The ability to communicate an idea clearly is an important skill in innovation, so teams also received valuable mentorship in business pitch development through the support of Booz Allen Hamilton.  The event also offered teams social and networking opportunities.

Throughout this interactive online learning experience, their innovations were also judged remotely by industry experts in product design, business, and engineers. Students emerge from their Global Innovation Awards experience encouraged and prepared with the know-how to deepen their projects and share that knowledge with their FIRST communities at home.

FIRST is a robotics community that prepares young people for the future, founded by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989. As part of the 2020-2021 FIRST GAME CHANGERSSM powered by Star Wars: Force for Change season, teams from around the world worked to identify and research a problem or opportunity to help people become more active and fit through play or movement. Teams then had the opportunity to submit their solutions to be considered for the FIRST Global Innovation Award.  

Submissions from teams spanned the globe and ranged from innovative shoe insoles that aid in recovery from lower-extremity injuries to wearables that improve blood circulation for wheelchair users. They were reviewed and judged in areas such as design, business model, innovation, business pitch, implementation, and innovation impact. Judges selected a winning team and two runners-up from each program after a series of interviews and presentations.

“We were thrilled to expand the FIRST Global Innovation Awards this season by bringing students from every FIRST program, including FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition teams, into the fold through the FIRST Innovation Challenge presented by Qualcomm,” said Chris Rake, interim president, FIRST. “It is inspiring to see the creative ways FIRST students tackled these real-world issues, and it’s a testament to their preparedness for solving society’s greatest challenges in the future.”



  • WINNER: FIGLOVE by Team “SESI Big Bang” of Sao Paulo, Brazil

FIGLOVE is an innovative strip placed in the palm of the hand that reduces pain during exercise. This innovation is especially beneficial to people with fibromyalgia, allowing them to stay active for longer periods of time which in turn helps reduce their symptoms.

  • RUNNER-UP:  Acti-Go All Terrain Sled by “8404 Team Not Found” of New Hamburg, ON, Canada
  • RUNNER-UP: SmartSteps System by Team 2751 “LEGO Legion” of Cincinnati, Ohio


FIRST Tech Challenge

  • WINNER: PATHWAYS Mobility Tool for the Visually Impaired by Team 14725 “Java the Hutts” of Fort Meyers, Fla.

To solve the problem of the lack of tools for the visually impaired, PATHWAYS is an ultra-wideband (UWB) detector device with an integrated vibration motor module. When attached to the user’s cane, it automatically runs a novel software. Through this software, the device incorporates an interface that scans for UWB beacons, using the detector built into the device, and forms a virtual boundary.

  • RUNNER-UP: Flex-Fit by Team 16457 “Deviation” of Aurora, Ill.
  • RUNNER-UP: Winter Wheels by Team 18368 “ALIEN” of Greendale, Wisc.


FIRST Robotics Competition

  • WINNER: Walk Assistant by Team 5553 “Robo’Lyon” of Rhone, France

The Walk Assistant aims to provide a solution for patients suffering from Parkinson's disease who develop a "freezing" symptom, which is described as sudden immobility that can last a few seconds or a few minutes. When patients experience “freezing,” walking is then impossible, which can lead to dangerous situations, such as falls, and can cause the patient to limit or even abandon his or her movements.

  • RUNNER-UP: SightWalk by Team 8 “Paly Robotics” of Palo Alto, Calif.
  • RUNNER-UP: Circulato by Team 5940 “B.R.E.A.D.” of Redwood City, Calif.



  • FIRST LEGO League: Move Bag by “SESI Biotech” of Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • FIRST Tech Challenge: STUNNER | Learn, Play, Exercise by Team 18025 “BSRC Mad About Robots” of Pune, India
  • FIRST Robotics Competition: PERSONAL ROBOT by Team 7563 “SESI SENAI MEGAZORD” of Jundiai, Sao Paulo



  • INNOVATION IMPACT: The Corti-Monitor System by Team 5875 “Corti-Patch Kids” of Oakville, ON, Canada
  • CREATE: PlayAR by Team 33017 “#PandaPower” of Los Altos, Calif.
  • IMPLEMENTATION: Limestoneopoly by Team 44949 “Robotillers” of Bedford, Ind.



  • BUSINESS MODEL: STUNNER | Learn, Play, Exercise by Team 18025 “BSRC Mad About Robots” of Pune, India
  • INNOVATION IMPACT: Pathfinder by Team 16884 “Mechanical Advantage” of San Diego, Calif.
  • DESIGN: Umuscle by Team 16656 “Thunderbots” of Granite Bay, Calif.



  • BUSINESS MODEL: AquaCue by Team 7480 “Machine Mavericks” of Kingston, ON, Canada
  • INNOVATION IMPACT: MULTI CROP SEED SOWING MACHINE by Team 8621 “KITS Angels FRC Akola Team” of Akola, Maharashtra, India
  • DESIGN: SPOCKS (Sensor Platform for Orthopedic Compliance after Knee Surgery) by Team 3792 “Army Ants” of Columbia, Mont.


The teams that received top honors will have a variety of experiential prizes, including the opportunity to advance their innovations beginning with an exclusive design review from John Deere’s global product engineering team; a one-on-one meeting with Collins Aerospace Technical Fellow and retired astronaut Dan Burbank; and a private virtual reality show from the National Air and Space Museum, courtesy of Booz Allen Hamilton.  All teams received one-of-a-kind Star Wars: Force for Change commemorative items.

Innovators and inventors play a critical role in growing our economy and improving our quality of life. The FIRST Global Innovation Awards powered by Star Wars: Force for Change are designed to encourage and assist teams with the competencies necessary to further develop their original and important ideas for solving global issues. Together, Disney, Lucasfilm, and FIRST are empowering the next generation of diverse creators, thinkers, and leaders—ensuring all young people have an opportunity to believe in possibilities, build new skills, and create a better future for themselves and the world. Students emerge as strong visionaries and divergent thinkers capable of applying innovative thinking to any problem. From improvements to the water cycle, to innovative solutions to waste management, past Global Innovation Awards winners have brought their inventions to market, become STEM ambassadors in their communities, received patents, and incorporated as businesses.

As part of its Media Partnership with FIRST for the FIRST Global Innovation Awards, Cheddar News hosted the Young Inventors series to highlight FIRST students and their innovations.

The 2021 FIRST Global Innovation Awards powered by Star Wars: Force for Change are sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton, Cheddar News, Collins Aerospace, John Deere, Qualcomm Incorporated, and LEGO Education and in collaboration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

FIRST Innovation Challenge sponsors include: Presenting Sponsor Qualcomm, Key Sponsor BAE Systems, with the support of John Deere and the global healthcare company Abbott and its foundation the Abbott Fund, Media Partner Cheddar News, and in collaboration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.


About FIRST®  
FIRST® is a robotics community that prepares young people for the future through a suite of inclusive, team-based robotics programs for ages 4-18 (PreK-12) that can be facilitated in school or in structured afterschool programs. An international not-for-profit organization founded by accomplished inventor Dean Kamen in 1989, FIRST has a proven impact on STEM learning, interest, and skill-building well beyond high school. Boosted by a global support system of mentors, coaches, volunteers, alumni, and sponsors that include over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies, teams operate under a signature set of FIRST Core Values to conduct research, fundraise, design, and build robots, then compete and celebrate at local, regional, and international events. High school students are eligible for more than $80 million in college scholarships. Learn more at


About Disney Corporate Social Responsibility and Star Wars: Force for Change
At Disney, corporate social responsibility refers to our commitment to operate our businesses in an honorable and ethical manner along with our efforts to inspire a world of difference through the power of stories. As part of these efforts, Disney is committed to inspiring and empowering the next generation of storytellers to create the future they imagine. Through a diverse suite of programs and investments, Disney is bridging opportunity gaps for youth so that everyone can dream about their possibilities, build their talents and skills, and become their wildest dreams. 

As part of The Walt Disney Company, Lucasfilm has extended this commitment through its philanthropic initiative, Star Wars: Force for Change, which aims to create transformation and change in the lives of kids by helping to bridge the STEM skills gap, utilizing the fun and intrigue of Star Wars storytelling to inspire innovation, help build confidence and ignite curiosity. In doing so, Star Wars: Force for Change hopes to embolden and motivate the next generation of heroes and innovators, while also empowering the Star Wars fan community to use their fandom for good.