What do a candle, a metal detector, a clay pot, vibrating molecules, smoke, a computer, salt, a laser, ice, and an invisible light beam have to do with your food? Each plays a role, either in preserving food or testing it for safety.
With the invention of the microscope, scientists discovered bacteria, parasites, and other threats to our food and ourselves. Pasteurizing, refrigerating, freezing, vacuum packing, and irradiating became common as scientists and engineers
found new ways to keep food safe for longer and longer.
Scientists and engineers discovered better fertilizers, pest killers, and medicines for farm animals. Inventors created new machines for planting and harvesting. Food began to travel farther and farther from where it was grown. Today, the food you eat might have traveled hundreds or thousands of miles before it got to you.
Girls Exploring New Ideas Using Science (GENIUS) was challenged by First Lego League's (FLL) 2011 Food Factor Challenge to investigate food and find a way improve its safe delivery.
The team won the first place Champion’s Award and the Robot Performance Award at the at the Georgia FLL Qualifier tournament held at on Dec. 10.
"We invented the Cool Factor. The Cool Factor is an alarm system for coolers. It alerts you with a light and sound when your cooler becomes to warm for food to be safe. It also sends you a signal to a wireless remote, so you know if the alarm goes off even when you're away form the cooler," GENIUS Coach Linda Pham told Northeast Cobb Patch. "Our prototype was created using two Dexter Industries temperature sensors and the Dexter Industries XBee technology, which is similar to blue tooth. When the cooler reaches over 40 degrees, the light from the color sensor will turn red and both NXTs will make a noise. You can see more about our project at http://geniusrobotics.com/content/project."
To win the Robot Performance Award their robot achieved the highest score in competition.
The team also participated in outreach throughout the year mentoring other teams and spreading the word about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Pham said.
They'll be competing at the Super Regional at Southern Polytechnic State University on Jan. 14.
GENIUS is going to be featured in the January edition of Inventors Digest.
GENIUS is a FIRST LEGO League robotics team from the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta. Many members live in Northeast and East Cobb.