(Rich Riggins/Feature Photo Service for FIRST)

FIRST Recognizes Students for Innovation in Sixth Annual FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award Contest

FIRST Recognizes Students for Innovation in Waste Management in Sixth Annual FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award Contest Presented by XPRIZE.

The Incredibots are a team of four 8th graders who are passionate about robotics, research, and STEM outreach. For the past 3 years, this team has been recognized internationally for their innovative solutions to widespread global problems, including earthquakes in third world countries, drowsy driving accidents, and Styrofoam waste accumulation. In 2016, the team received the 1st Place Champions Award at the FLL Ohio State Championship and will represent Ohio at the upcoming FLL World Festival. They have also received recognition in numerous global competitions including eCYBERMISSION (National 1st Place), Christopher Columbus Awards (National 1st Place), and Google Science Fair (Regional Finalist). The Incredibots were also featured in Scholastic’s Science World magazine (October 12, 2015). Their patent-pending Styro-Filter process has the potential to reduce the nearly 2 billion pounds of non-recyclable Styrofoam that is thrown away each year in the US.

Invention Description:
We developed an innovative solution called Styro-Filter, in which Styrofoam waste is successfully converted into activated carbon that can be used to purify water. First we developed a low temperature, enclosed process to carbonize Styrofoam (expanded polystyrene) and etched it using chemical reagents to produce activated carbon with a surface area over 100 square meters per gram! We then made a prototype water filter using a disposable water bottle filled with the activated carbon we made from Styrofoam. Finally, we tested the effectiveness of Styro-Filter by measuring the reduction of various chemical contaminants in water solutions, and we found that our Styro-Filter was very effective for filtration.