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The Electric Eagles

Juliana Yu (second from left) with her teammates

St. Louis – April 24. It’s dead silent in the auditorium. Twenty semi-finalist teams nervously await the next words to ring through the room. Who will be named the finalists of the 2015 FIRST LEGO (FLL) League Global Innovation competition?

My team, the Electric Eagles from The Dalton School in New York City, is one of the 20. We created an iOS application called “SocialQs.” The app is designed to help young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder learn socially-adaptive behavior. We used gaming techniques, video clips, and positive reinforcement to develop a unique educational application. In developing the app, we worked closely with several experts, including Kara Reagon, a behavioral specialist at Autism Speaks, and Matthew Lerner, a Professor of Clinical Psychology at Stony Brook University in New York.

More than 500 teams from around the world participated in the Global Innovation Award competition. The competition is part of the FLL robotics program, and the semi-finals were part of the FLL World Championship. 

When we learned in March that our team had been selected, my friend and teammate Nadim Abboud, 11, exclaimed, “I can’t believe that we’re competing in the semi-finals!”

We worked closely with our three coaches to contact experts, refine the application, and advance our presentation. Then we travelled to St. Louis and presented our project to the judges and the general public. One of our coaches, Kuri DiFede, told me that her favorite part of FLL is “seeing the great things [her] students come up with.”



Top honors in the competition went to Team Storm from Indiana. Their app makes learning new Math concepts easier for children challenged with dyslexia. The “Lego Lions” from Texas were the runners-up. They created Haptic Vision, an app for visually-impaired students to learn STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Although our team was not selected as one of the finalists, we will continue to develop the “SocialQs” app. Eventually, we hope to make it available to students around the world.

We had an exciting and informative experience in St. Louis. As my friend and teammate, Lana Wagner, 11, said, “My favorite part of FLL is working together and getting to know one another.”

Photo courtesy of the author