Science competition earns trip to White House

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A Los Alamos girl scout troop was invited to a science competition last month to promote the creation of a project for senior citizens. Two of the girls were chosen by President Barack Obama to present the project at the White House Science Fair.
The Atomic Flying Pickles is part of the Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails. They are a First Lego League or FLL team of sixth graders, who follow a love of science.
“I am so excited and honored to be going to the White House and to be able to meet other students from around our country doing STEM related projects,” said Peggy Sanchez Mills, CEO of the New Mexico Trails. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The girls, 11 and 12 years old, attend Mountain Elementary School.
The FLL team competition was held in St. Louis, Mo. The girls used Lego models with robots in an obstacle course to solve problems from the theme. Since the project dealt with how to help the elderly, the obstacle ideas revolved around balance and other health issues seniors have to endure as they age.
For the final project, the group of five had read a story in a Pittsburgh medical journal about a cooling headband that helps with insomnia. It is a non-pharmaceutical solution since seniors are susceptible to potentially dangerous drug side effects.
The girls have since applied for a provisional patent, after testing their idea out at the Betty Ehart Senior.
The idea for the headband is one filled with gel that soaks up water and stay hydrated for hours.
Worn at night, the headbands offers evaporative cooling action that may reduce the temperature of the frontal cortex to reduce racing thoughts that are said to keep elderly people awake at night.
Seventy five percent of the seniors at the senior center who tried it, said that it worked for them.
It is the third year the troop has competed and each year there is a theme organized by FLL.
This year, was “Senior Solutions.” Although difficult, the girls said the projects were still something they enjoyed doing.
It’s meant to challenge you,” said Evelyn Doebling, 12.
“We would love to go back again next year to defend our title,” said troop leader Susannah Rousculp, whose daughter Catherine, 11, is part of the team.
Lauren Stubben and Haylee Richardson, both 11, and Summer Bronson, 12, round out the team. All girls plan to pursue careers in science.
Summer and Catherine, who visited the White House were proud to say that the president was interested in the project and thought it was a good idea.