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A local youth robotics team was one of only 20 teams out of 32,000 entries selected to advance to the Eighth Annual FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award competition for their outstanding innovative solution that demonstrated originality while having the potential to add significant value to the world. The local homeschooled robotics team, Operation T.A.C.

(Technology & Character), has invented the SeaSafe Water Analysis Kit to better protect swimmers from illnesses contracted while in contaminated water. The team of six, ages 11 to 15, will travel to San Jose from June 19-21 to present their innovation to expert judges.

All semi-finalists will participate in a two-day, hands-on innovation event at San Jose State University Student Union, which culminates in the awarding of the top prize of $20,000 to continue work on their inventions; two runners-up will take home $5,000 each.

Operation T.A.C. is sponsored by Jeffrey Adam Memorial Foundation, Academic Chess, Doheny Long Board Surfing Association, Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari, Brandon Orthodontics, Toes on the Noes, Sebor, Strategic Kids, and Winchell Chiropractic & Wellness Center. They are looking for additional sponsors for funds needed to advance their water analysis innovation towards production.

The FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award teams must consider possible barriers to

implementation, document the evaluation of their invention and validate their design with professionals working in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Past winning teams have focused on solving global problems—from a device that allowed a toddler with a hand difference to learn to write, to a chemical process to recycle polystyrene into activated charcoal for filtration, to an app that helps blind children learn Braille. Past finalists have brought inventions to market, received patents and incorporated as businesses.

To learn more about FIRST LEGO League and FIRST, go to www.firstinspires.org.

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