CRESTVIEW — Six Shoal River Middle School students on the MustLego robotics team have submitted an idea to win a Global Innovation Award and $20,000 to make it a reality.
MustLego is one of the school’s three First Lego League teams working with Lego robotics to perform automated tasks and use teamwork to solve everyday problems.
Recently, all of the league’s teams had to find a solution for seniors that deal with loss of sight, hearing or memory from Alzheimer's disease. Each team worked with a senior citizen who provided insight on each problem and input on the solution.
"Our senior partner has a friend that has glaucoma, so we were thinking that we could help out with that,” Jacob Thursby, 12, said. Glaucoma involves a number of eye conditions that cause optic nerve damage and gradual loss of sight.
The team learned that glaucoma takes different forms, including open-angle glaucoma, which occurs when the eye's drainage canals clog overtime.
"We researched it and figured out the best way to get to it was through the nose," Jacob said.
With help from local optometrist Dr. Amy Riggs and Jacob's mother, a licensed nurse practitioner, the boys created a nasal spray called Eye Max. It contains the same chemicals found in most eye drops and oral treatments, but nasal spray would be more user-friendly, students said.
"With eye drops, it can be hard (for seniors to use), if they have arthritis," Noah Frank, 11, said. "But with nasal spray, they can just (spray) it up to their nose."
After learning how impressed Riggs was with their idea, Allen decided to submit their innovation for an award.
"This is the first year that I have submitted one of their ideas," said Allen, who has coached the teams since 2009.
Eye Max will compete with 457 innovations for the top prize, Allen said.
"The grand prize in the judging part of it is $20,000 towards making your product happen,” Allen said. “They have had multiple teams get patents for their ideas through FLL."
League officials will notify the top three winners of their achievement in early April.
Eighth-grader Joe Gelzer, 14, anticipates the possibilities.
"It feels really good," Joe said. "I thought the biggest thing that we would get was the trophies and the medal we won from the tournaments. So, its a great honor."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.