Hi! My name is Libby Kamen. Around here at FIRST, they call me “Hey you, Intern!”

I’m a Communications major at Clarkson University, and I’ve been involved in different FIRST programs as a participant, volunteer, and mentor for about 10 years.

I’ve been working with both FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Marketing this summer, so when I found out about the Global Innovation Award awards ceremony, it was the perfect mesh of both of my jobs here! I was so excited- my first month as an intern, and I’m already traveling ‘for work’. I was ecstatic that I was asked to come along and help make the event happen.

Our first task involved with the Global Innovation Award was to set up- which went super smoothly thanks to Show Ready Events. We were able to go and see the monuments in DC and actually got to sit down for dinner- and if you’re a FIRST volunteer, you know that’s a very rare occurrence!

Part of the ‘marketing’ side of my job at the event was to assist with ABC World News Tonight filming the big meet-up of The Flying Monkeys and Danielle. The FIRST staff was excited, but when we arrived at the hotel we looked almost bored in comparison to the pure energy in the room given off by the Flying Monkeys! The girls were bouncing off the walls with anticipation to meet the little girl they had helped out.

After we had prepared the girls for the filming, I got to go up with the ABC crew to get Danielle and her family ready for the big moment. We wanted to keep the moment as organic as possible, so we decided that Danielle and her family would come down the hall just a few seconds behind me (my red sweater was the ‘flag’ to turn the cameras on!) and the Flying Monkeys would be waiting around the corner in the room.

We were all a little worried about what Danielle’s reaction would be. She’s three years old, and a swarming group of FLLers might be a little scary! We were all totally ready for her to run right back out the door- but her reaction was so much cooler. A quiet squeak: “Monkeys!” Danielle and the Monkeys connected quickly, and within a few minutes the BOB-1 device was on Danielle’s hand and the girls were coloring together.

The next morning the FIRST staff was up bright and early for the Global Innovation Award ceremony at the US Patent and Trademark office. The ceremony was a great time for all! The FLL teams and their families got to listen to Jon Dudas, Dean Kamen, and officials from the USPTO and XPrize Foundation, and the Flying Monkeys got their ‘big check’ to assist with their patent process. My favorite part of the day was the kid inventors’ panel involving some students from each team, talking about their projects, how they see innovation and their thoughts on the invention process with their devices. They also gave their FLL Project presentations as a part of the ceremony, so that all the people in attendance could see their wonderfully creative and fun projects!

Meeting these students was truly an inspiring experience. All of the teams there had an innovative spark and an excitement about their ideas that, for me, re-instilled my faith in today’s youth. Programs like FIRST and the Global Innovation Award are exactly what we need to change the culture and to get students excited about science, engineering and math. The passion and creativity displayed by all of the students present at the awards ceremony was a testament to the power of the FIRST message.

I can’t wait to see next year’s Global Innovation Award submissions! While this program may have been in its first year, it’s obvious that the Global Innovation Award is going to be key for the future of FIRST LEGO League.

Being a part of the Global Innovation Award ceremony was one of the highlights of my internship so far, and I’m looking forward to many more awesome experiences with FIRST and FLL!