Monday, January 30, 2012

Meet the Green Machine

The Green Machine Team is a team of Girl Scouts who are competing for the First® Lego® League Global Innovation Award ( which grants funding to bring inventions to market. The prize is awarded based on review of the innovation and popular vote. If we can get our team into the top 10, which is won by popular vote, we will be guaranteed consideration from the FLL judges. We are proud to represent Girl Scouts in this competition. We would like all Girl Scouts and their families to vote. Everyone can vote once every 24 hours.  Here's the direct voting link:

Team Description: 
Our team comes from 6 different Girl Scout troops, 5 different schools and grades! Our ages are 9-14years old.  The team is called "Green Machine" and we are Girl Scouts from the West Windsor–Plainsboro Service unit.  Even though we still sell cookies our motto is "We are not just about cookies anymore!"  We compete in the FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Lego® League Robotics games and this year we won the first place Champions Prize at our regional qualifier. This means that our team received high marks in each of 4 judging categories: Core values, Robot design, Research, and Robot games!  Our robot is an autonomous (no remote control) machine, built to score points by performing mission tasks. We call her Miss Cookie Crusher. We are proud to be Girl Scouts and will represent Girl Scouts once again at the FLL Championship Games  at the University of Pennsylvania on January 28.  

Team Research: 
Every year the FLL games has a special theme and teams must do research to come up with a novel way to solve problems that are related to the theme. We use our creativity to design or modify an existing solution to a real world problem.  This year the theme was ‘FOOD FACTOR’ and the challenge was to invent a novel way to keep food safe. Teams from all over the world came up with many ideas such as ultraviolet light lunch boxes and automatic sanitizing counter tops. Our idea is called ‘Wachasttab’ or wax covered hybrid seed tomato that turns blue when infected with Salmonella.

Brief Submission Description: 
We started our research on our project by visiting and interviewing growers at the local farmers markets to learn about problems they faced with food safety. Everyone knew about the contamination of raw foods with Salmonella, but they agreed that it is very difficult to detect until someone gets sick. Besides potatoes, people eat tomatoes more than any other fruit or vegetable.  In this country almost all tomatoes come from large farms that are supplied with seeds from 3 companies; Monsanto, Heinz and Dupont. We researched outbreaks of Salmonella and read papers about new discoveries for detecting Salmonella  in tomatoes. We talked with experts at two universities and came up with our own solution. We examined data from some preliminary experiments and realized that it is possible to genetically modify vegetables so that they change color in the presence of Salmonella.

Wachasttab is a patent pending form of genetically modified plant to prevent the spread of disease from Salmonella. The process can be applied to any plant, but our project specifically targets tomatoes. Salmonella can colonize tomatoes at any stage of the food chain, from seed to marketplace. Wachasttab is a method to protect seeds with probiotics  and genetically modify tomatoes so that they can be identified if contaminated with Salmonella. The contaminated tomatoes are not meant to be eaten-they are meant to be destroyed. Because the modified genes are not actually activated unless the plant is exposed to Salmonella, consumers who object to eating genetically modified produce should not be concerned. We hope that one of the large tomato seed companies (Monsanto, Heinz, or Dupont) will use our idea to help improve the safety of raw tomatoes. 


  1. On January 28th, the Girl Scout Robotics Team won the 1st place Champions Award in the Eastern Pennsylvania Division of the FIRST Lego League. They are headed to the World Championship in April. Go Green Machine!

  2. Green Machine is once again headed to the Eastern Regional Championships at University of Pennsylvania! In addition to competing, we're going to be collecting donations for Connecting with Seniors in Point Pleasant Beach and driving it all down on Sunday. We're asking for our Global Innovations voting help again for our pill dispenser the RxEMINDER. You can now vote as many times as you want for as many teams as you want every day! Vote here: