Press Release - May 27, 2014
FIRST® Students Invited to 2014 White House Science Fair
Twelve FIRST Students Celebrated for Achievements in STEM and Innovation
MANCHESTER, N.H., May 27, 2014 – FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a not-for-profit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s participation and interest in science and technology, announced that 11 current FIRST participants and one FIRST alum have been invited by President Barack Obama to attend the 2014 White House Science Fair, May 27, which will celebrate the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions from across the country.
This is the fourth time that FIRST students have been asked to participate in the White House Science Fair since the President began the tradition in 2009, and this year President Obama will also announce new steps as part of his Educate to Innovate campaign, an effort to get more girls and boys motivated to succeed in STEM fields. Additionally, this year’s Fair will include a specific focus on girls and women who are excelling in STEM and inspiring the next generation with their work.
During the White House Science Fair, the President will salute the following FIRST teams:
- Junior FIRST® LEGO League (Jr.FLL®) Team 248 and Girl Scout Troop 2612, “Lego Queens,” from Broken Arrow, Okla.;
- FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) Team 27, “Team RUSH, “ from Clarkson, Mich.;
- FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) Team 1739, “Chicago Knights,” from Chicago, Ill.;
- FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) Team 1915, “MTHS Firebird Robotics,” from Wash. D.C.; and
Parker Owen, FIRST alum and winner of the 2013 FIRST Future Innovators Award, will also be recognized by President Obama at the White House Science Fair. Owen participated on FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®) Team 4260 and FRC Team 3469, both named “Spanish Inquisition,” and was honored at the 2013 FIRST Championship event for his invention, the Cycle-Leg – an inexpensive prosthetic made from a single recycled bicycle.
The FIRST Future Innovator Award, sponsored by the Abbott Fund, celebrates innovation and intellectual property creation inspired by the FIRST season experience. Following the 2013 FIRST Championship, Owen has continued to develop the Cycle-Leg and has even started his own advertising company, FRAPZ (“a new means of advertising, connecting businesses to customers through concentrated areas by utilizing the tops of laptops to display impact advertisements,” he explained); all while pursuing an interdisciplinary study in physics and business at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama.
Owen’s award-winning invention has “come a long way since 2013,” with improvements specifically on the ‘boot’ or socket of the prosthetic.
“There are 22 companies in the United States that work on the mechanics of prosthetics, but people don’t realize the problem is in the boot. It’s costly and labor intensive for the maker and the recipient,” said Owen, stating that this expensive practice is what he hopes to change. “Technology moves so fast, and everyone wants the newest, greatest thing. But not everyone can afford it.”
Owen’s Cycle-Leg is now in two separate pieces – one piece is an adjustable socket, “the first of its kind;” the other is the mechanics of the leg used for kinetic motion. The new socket is completely adjustable and available in a variety of sizes in order to accommodate 95 percent of below-the-waist amputees.
The Cycle-Leg and the growing FRAPZ are not Owen’s only endeavors. The 20-year-old is constantly working on other ideas, inventions, and business opportunities.
Owen is “really excited” about bringing his Cycle-Leg to the 2014 White House Science Fair as it will give him the chance to get the word out about his invention and the work he has done to improve the process of prosthesis.
“The cycle has never been on display before. Now it will be; in the White House,” he said. “Winning the FIRST Future Innovator Award has propelled me further than I ever thought possible. I’m just so happy for this opportunity.”
The 2014 White House Science Fair will take place in the morning on May 27, 2014 and will be streamed live at wh.gov/sciencefair.
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $20 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC® ) for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL® ) for Grades 4-8; and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for Grades K-3. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org.