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Proving that the FIRST program is much more than games of robotic awesomeness, a team of Girl Scouts in Iowa engineered a prosthetic device that allowed a Georgia toddler to write for the first time. The device won an inaugural X Prize Global Innovation Award and the team has applied for a patent.

The Flying Monkeys robotics team from Ames, Iowa, developed a prosthetic tool for a 3-year-old girl who was born without fingers on her dominant hand. The device, called the BOB-1, allowed young Danielle to hold a pencil and draw for the first time, according to the Girl Scouts. The team hopes the invention could help others with hand abnormalities or injuries hold and stabilize a wide range of items.

The Flying Monkeys, who are all between 11 and 13 years old, built the BOB-1 as part of the FIRST Lego League, a robotics competition for middle school students. One of the team members has a limb deficiency that inspired their work.

The Girl Scouts visited a prosthetics manufacturer and an occupational therapist to learn about existing prosthetics, and they learned they’re expensive and cumbersome, so they wanted to build something that was simple to put on and use. The BOB-1 involves a plastic platform attached to a user’s arm, with a perpendicular piece that can grip a pencil or another utensil.

The X Prize Foundation awarded the team $20,000 toward patenting their invention, and a patent is already pending from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The girls beat 179 submissions from 16 countries to win the prize.

The working prototype is already helping Danielle to draw and write, and the team has been working with her parents to improve the design.

Watch young Kate Murray and her teammates describe the BOB-1 in this local news clip from their hometown station.

[via CNET]

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