FIRST Newsletter - June, 2010

Newsletter Masthead 2

"The Inventioneers" Win FIRST LEGO League Smart Move 1st Place Champion’s Award

The InventioneersPhoto courtesy of "The Inventioneers"

The most prestigious award for FIRST LEGO League (FLL), the Champion’s Award, recognizes a team that embodies the FLL experience, by fully embracing our Core Values while achieving excellence and innovation in both the Robot Game and Project. The 1st Place Champion’s Award winners at the Smart Move World Festival are "The Inventioneers," a homeschool team from Londonderry, New Hampshire, now in its sixth year.

According to the judges, this team "has it all - a module and chassis system that allowed 400 scores, a patent filed, and inventioneering with MIT. These Gracious Professionals showed the judges they were champions."

For their Smart Move Challenge Project, the Inventioneers took on the growing problem of drivers who text behind the wheel. The team created a public education campaign they call Don’t DUIT - DUIT stands for Driving Under the Influence of Texting. Texting is an addictive behavior and one study revealed that texting truck drivers are 23 times more likely to crash than those who don’t text. "The Inventioneers" learned that 70% of teen drivers admit to texting behind the wheel.  

The team also developed a technological solution to the DUIT problem. They call their device the SMARTwheel - SMART stands for Safe Motorist Alert for Restriction Texting. This invention is a sensor-laden steering wheel cover that detects texting behavior and emits alerts to bring the driver’s attention away from texting and back to the road. Future optional features include data collection and notification of employers, parents, or insurers of the driver’s unsafe behavior behind the wheel.

The team recently finished a university level pilot study at prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA. The two-day study validated the SMARTwheel’s effectiveness as a deterrent to DUIT and as a valuable new driver training tool. The team continues to work with MIT toward meeting with U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, and partnerships with State Farm Insurance. 

In a presentation regarding their research and solution at the 2010 New Hampshire Highway Safety Conference, the team received a standing ovation from the audience of traffic safety professionals, legislators, and law enforcement leaders from around the state and the nation. The team is further developing their Don’t DUIT curriculum aimed at middle- and high-school-aged students and is determined to have both the curriculum and the SMARTwheel incorporated into New Hampshire’s graduated drivers licensing program.

The students are building their second generation SMARTwheel prototype utilizing micro chip technology and are pursuing a utility patent for their life-saving invention. They will appear this summer on the ABC affiliate television programs, New Hampshire’s Business and New Hampshire Chronicle.

"The Inventioneers" are environmentalists as well as an FLL team. They have held three provisional patents on green inventions and are currently developing a proposal , at Stonyfield Yogurt’s request, to build the team’s  pilot algae-to-biofuel system on the company’s property. The system uses the Inventioneers’ proprietary cutting-edge technology for extracting oil from the algae. This invention was inspired by the FLL Climate Connection Challenge and is an exciting opportunity for the long term.

Congratulations to "The Inventioneers". This team is committed to FLL and has plans for some exciting projects in partnership with FIRST.  Additionally, though they are retiring from official FLL competition, they are devoting their time to rookie teams. They are forming their own non-profit corporation and are taking their highly successful ABCs of FLL seminar around the nation. Starting in Manchester at FIRST Place in August, the team will travel to Washington, DC in the fall to bring the seminar to new FLL teams near the nation’s capital. They are also in contact with organizations in the northeast and some western states to bring their rookie team training workshops and materials to new teams there. To find out more about the team’s ABCs of FLL seminar or their new team mentoring program, email them at Also, check out their website at, and their blogs,, and

Smart Move turned out to be a very smart move for the Inventioneers. They achieved their dream of becoming the FLL World Champions and they made many great connections that will grow into new partnerships for the team and will help them reach their goal to save lives on our nation's highways.

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