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BioMed SA’s FIRST Lego League Team Wins Hearts and Minds at Prestigious Conference in Austin
January 11, 2011




The Randomists at the 2011 TAMEST Conference with Dr. George Perry of UTSA (back row left), BioMed SA President Ann Stevens, and Dr. Alfred Gilman of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. 
(Photo by Jeff Kahl)

SAN ANTONIO (January 11, 2011) - When Texas' 10 Nobel Laureates and other members of The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST) met in Austin last week, they were treated to a firsthand demonstration of how young Texans - including a group of San Antonio ten-year-olds - are building and programming robots to solve real-world health challenges.

The demonstration was part of the FIRST Lego League (FLL) program developed by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway and numerous medical devices. Kamen's FIRST program (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is designed to stimulate young people's interest in science and technology.

Kamen was the 2009 recipient of BioMed SA's 4th Annual Julio Palmaz Award for Innovation in Healthcare and the Biosciences. Ian Clements, CEO of San Antonio biomedical startup company ViroXis, heard Kamen's inspiring acceptance remarks and afterwards helped his daughter form a Lego League team with her young classmates.

Their team, The Randomists, won the Research Project category at San Antonio's 2010 FLL tournament in November. They were subsequently invited to take part in a demonstration match January 7 at the prestigious TAMEST Conference in Austin, where they were joined by Dr. Alfred Gilman, a Nobel Laureate and Chief Science Officer of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).

Team member Madelyne Wilson of the Montessori School of San Antonio was interviewed on Austin TV, where she explained the intricacies of programming a robot.

"It's complicated work," Wilson told reporter Sarah Carney of KVUE-TV News. "With the robot, you have to be very precise and correct on your alignment, and sometimes the light sensors get moved off a little and you have to straighten them up. You have to make sure you're watching what you are doing."

"This is the way we need to teach science and get people interested in science and engineering," Dr. Gilman told KVUE. "Rather than sticking their nose in a book, they get to apply the things and have great fun with it. The robot of my team wasn't working so well, and they managed to fix that. They're reprogramming on the fly, which takes a lot of guts. It's amazing what they're doing at this age."

Click here for the KVUE-TV interview:


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