Team ‘Robowiz’ Competes in Nationals

Rocky Run Middle School FIRST Lego League (FLL) Robotics team “Robowiz,” is one of two teams invited to represent the VA/DC Region, at the 2012 FLL World Open Invitational Championship in Legoland, Fla. from May 3-6, hosted by the University of South Florida, All Saints’ Academy, Legoland, Fla., and the technology sponsor AT&T Inc. (www.poly.usf.edu/robotsinparadise/).

FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is a collaboration between the LEGO Company and FIRST (an acronym that stands for, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a non-profit organization founded by the inventor of the Segway, Dean Kamen.

The real-world challenge topic for the 2011-12 FLL Challenge was “Food Factor”, which is to showcase how scientists, engineers, government agencies, and food producers work together to find solutions in keeping food safe.

Team Robowiz’s topic for the challenge is called C.L.E.A.N. (Combat Lettuce-Ecoli Awesomely & Naturally) grocery bags. The patent-pending C.L.E.A.N. Grocery Bag solution kills foodborne bacteria like Ecoli on the surface of any produce like lettuce (bit.ly/vote4rrms).

Leveraging research in an article in The Journal of Medical Microbiology that reported that oil extracted from coriander seeds (cilantro) can kill many foodborne disease causing bacteria like Ecoli, Salmonella enterica and MRSA, Robowiz’s solution is to encapsulate coriander oil in a slow release, food-approved natural polymer, like pectin, and coat the grocery bag with this polymer. When a consumer loads the bag with any produce, the foodborne disease causing bacteria on the produce will be killed with the oil released from the polymer. The bag is made of reusable, organic, washable fabric and can be re-coated when the effect of the coriander oil is reduced.

Existing solutions detect and discard contaminated food, but CLEAN grocery bags will prevent and kill foodborne pathogens. The team’s solution is now a global semifinalist after it was voted second in the 2012 FLL Global Innovation Award competing with almost 250 Global Teams with patentable technology. See http://fllinnovationaward.firstlegoleague.org/