623 King Street West, Kingston, ON, K7M 2E7

Stem Leaders of Tomorrow Are Already Here

Innovative Solution for FIRST Champions – The Comet Warriors

STEM leaders of tomorrow are already here! Kingston’s own FIRST Lego League team, The Comet Warriors, took home the award for ‘Innovative Solution’ at the FIRST World Championship this past month in Detroit. The 106 teams competing in Detroit were chosen from over 32,000 teams across 88 countries.

The Comet Warriors, a dynamic team of 9 youths grades 5-8, wanted to solve one problem: how can families waste less energy heating shower water.  By researching and using open source tutorials, code and other online resources, they were able to ideate a learning machine that can now be installed in your bathroom vanity to sense and learn your showering habits, ensuring you waste the least amount of water and energy while optimizing your available hot-water for showering. The team found that the average family wastes about 15,000 litres of water per year waiting for their shower to heat up. Their solution saves most of that water, along with the energy required to heat it and the carbon emissions produced in the process.

The team utilized machine learning for various tasks, and applied it to their scientific problem. Using online tutorials, open source software, local plumbing experts and cloud computing they were able to build their solution around a mini-programmable computer. They started with a list of problems with existing solutions, then developed a series of six prototypes to address those problems. The original proof of concept was built around a Lego EV3 computer. Nine months later they had a far more efficient and lower cost solution built around a wifi-enabled microcontroller and Amazon machine learning.

The team credits the influence of the Kingston community, locally available resources, and the willingness of people to connect and provide feedback to the success of their project.  Kingston Economic Development, Kingston Utilities, The City of Kingston, LaunchLab, Awesome Kingston, iStorm, MaxSold, Innovate Kingston (Board), and Queen’s University are just a few of those who provided wrap-around resources and advice.

Through the team’s fundraising efforts they were also able to ‘pay it forward’, by directly sponsoring two FLL teams from Puerto Rico who needed financial and technical support.  As leaders in FLL Robotics, the Comets are hoping to spread the word about the meaning of the program as one that is there to help youth accelerate their ideas and support one another in the community.

Now that the yearly tournaments have come to an end the team is looking to their future.  They hope to bring their product to market and are working with patent attorneys, marketing experts, and other business advisors to make that happen.  One important insight they gained over the past few months is that many utility companies provide rebates for products that reduce carbon emissions. They currently have one device installed in their coaches’ shower, and hope to have more installed by the end of the summer so they can start analyzing real-world data.

Congratulations to Team Members

  • Olivia O’Driscoll – Cloud computing and Machine Learning
  • Lily Goss – Machine Learning and Market Research
  • Tara O’Driscoll – Social Media, Graphic Design, and Props
  • Macy Preston – Social Media and  Prototyping
  • Neshaya Wijeratne – Cost Analysis and Prototyping
  • Hannah Moore – Prototyping and Programming
  • Lais Soares – Treasurer, Prototyping, Market Research
  • Nicolas Benavides – Electronic Design and Programming
  • Alyssa Whalen –  Prototyping and Customer Discovery Interviews
  • Ella Hsu, Team Mentor

Check out their video competition!

Follow them on Twitter @ecclegorobotics.