‘Brain Busters’ win First Lego

A tornado, hurricane or earthquake has devastated a town and wiped out communications. Where can people go for help? Look for the giant balloon.

The Brain Busters — a team of six boys from Sherborne, Massachusetts — has won FIRST LEGO League’s global innovation award for their idea: After a natural disaster, suspend a large sign from a helium balloon that can be seen at long distances.

The Brain Busters’ “love math, computer programming, engineering, and problem solving,” they write. “We built a full scale (100’ high!), working model that we have deployed in high winds, snow storms, and extreme cold.”

State emergency management officials hope to put the idea into use.

More than 500 FIRST LEGO League teams submitted their ideas.

Runners up were the Robotic Raiders of Williamsburg, Iowa, who devised the Cyclone Survivor board game to teach how to prepare for, survive and recover from a tornado, and RobotTec of Santiago, Chile, who designed the Tsunami Evacuation System, which uses retro-reflectors and three-color LED lights on major streets.

Terror and courage at Oklahoma school


Survivors: A child is pulled from the rubble of the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma, and passed along to rescuers

Rescuers pull a girl from the rubble of her elementary school

Plaza Towers Elementary School was leveled by the tornado that devastated Moore, Oklahoma. Seven children drowned in the basement of the school.  Teachers shielded students with their bodies.

“We had to pull a car off a teacher and she had three little kids underneath her,” one first responder, in tears, told KFOR. “Good job, teach.”

“I was on top of six kids,” one sixth grade teacher said, working her way across the rubble. “I was lying on top. All of mine are OK.”

Teachers helped tear through several feet of rubble to rescue sobbing students, some of them injured.

The death toll in Oklahoma now stands at 24, including nine children.

Joplin schools open on schedule

It’s the first day of school in Joplin, Missouri, which was devastated by a killer tornado in May. Despite the destruction — six schools destroyed, three badly damaged — the district is ready, reports the Tulsa World.

The high school is a heap of rubble: Freshmen and sophomore will have classes at a middle school, while juniors and seniors go to Shopko, an empty department store that got a $5.5 million makeover in 12 weeks.

Donors have helped teachers replaced lost school supplies.

 

Alabama colleges mourn tornado victims

Alabama’s community colleges are mourning students killed in the devastating tornadoes. Graduation ceremonies have been postponed or cancelled.

Also on Community College Spotlight:  Michigan’s community colleges are learning how to retrain laid-off workers — many with poor reading, writing and math skills — so they’re not “left behind.”