Balloon Based Notification Sign

United States
Team Name: 
The Brain Busters
Team Description: 
The Brain Busters’ motto is “We don’t bust our brains, we use our brains to bust problems.” We are a team of six who love math, computer programming, engineering, and problem solving. FLL is the hardest thing we’ve ever done, but we all love it. We’ve all known each other since we were little kids. We work hard, we play hard, and we embrace the FLL Core Values. While we all like building and programming the robots, we were especially excited by our project. We weren’t satisfied to just research and come up with our idea. We built a small prototype and then built a full size (100 foot high!) working model that we could show at our FLL competitions and to experts in the field. The process of brainstorming, compromising, designing, building, testing, failing, reworking, and finally producing a fully functional, full scale prototype is what the Brain Busters is all about.
Our invention best falls under this category: 
Recovering from a Natural Disaster
Brief Invention Description: 
Our invention is a balloon based, long range notification sign that can be used to indicate where to find aid after a natural disaster, when traditional infrastructure is not available. We consulted with experts in disaster planning and response and there seems to be no good solutions for communicating the location of disaster aid, when there’s no power telephones, cell phones, Internet, radio, or TV. Our straight forward idea is to suspend a large sign from a helium balloon that could be seen from very long distances. We built a full scale (100’ high!), working model that we have deployed in high winds, snow storms, and extreme cold. We demonstrated it to State emergency management officials, and they were so excited about its potential they were coming up with ideas where they could use it right away. The idea is simple, inexpensive, portable, reusable, and requires no power or special expertise to use. Extensive research has shown no similar solutions.