Franklin Countys First News

Spruce Mountain LEGO team designs kid-safe sanitizer

WILTON - A collaboration between the Western Maine Play Museum and Spruce Mountain Middle School LEGO Team has resulted in an innovative solution to a problem faced by many right now: kid-safe sanitization.

At first glance, hand sanitizer might not seem to fit into the world of LEGOs, but team leader Rob Taylor said the tiny, colorful bricks are only half of what the team works with.

"The other half is all innovation. Some teams integrate LEGOs into that, but they don't have to," Taylor said.

This year's competition presented the theme of solving a problem in a public space. The middle school team "Just the Incredible Six" (Adria McHugh, Aalyah Herrera, Tateum Leclerc, Cecilia Pike, Brenden Veilleux, and Skyler Condon) immediately thought of the Play Museum, which had only recently opened. After visiting they landed on the issue of how to sanitize the space that is so widely used by many little, dirty hands.

"A lot of hand sanitizers are alcohol-based, so the team decided to focus on making a sanitizer that is more kid friendly," Taylor said.

After doing extensive research and talking to other children's museums across the nation, the team discovered the anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties of tea tree oil. The natural oil seemed like a good basis for their solution.

Since inventing the gel, the team has been invited to submit their project to the FIRST LEGO League Global Innovation Award held in Disney in June. Their submission will join 200 others vying for only 20 qualifying spots.

"The kids keep saying it feels like we're on Shark Tank. The judges are really looking for a real world solution, not just a pie in the sky idea," Taylor said.

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