Meadow Vista kids’ forest-fire prevention breakthrough featured in documentary

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A high-tech innovation by a group of Auburn-area whiz kids is now the stuff movies are made of. Sony Europe started filming Meadow Vista’s six-member Lego Guard team early last year and followed them to a win in an international competition in Copenhagen last May. Their award-winning idea? To put cameras in fire-prone forests and then allow the Webcam shots to instantly appear as screensavers so anyone in the world could alert authorities to a fire. The triumphs didn’t stop in Copenhagen. The Sony-financed documentary crew followed the team and filmed as corporation engineers worked with the Lego Guard to make their Forest Guard concept a reality. This winter, the first prototype was installed for testing near Lake Tahoe. The 40-minute documentary was screened for TV executives in London, England in February with an eye to airing it on family-friendly networks such as Discovery Kids. Copies were sent to the award-winning Lego team and they’ll be sharing the 40-minute documentary with the community this Saturday at a premiere showing in Auburn’s Placer High School Auditorium. Bobby Huckins, a Lego Guard member for two years and part of the award-winning team, said the film provides a good look at the process the group became involved in to bring solar-powered Web cam technology to forests. “It’s also inspirational,” Huckins said. “It shows how six kids can make a difference.” Heidi Buck, coach of the team, said Sony Europe flew the entire team to England in June to spend a week with engineers to perfect their plans. The first prototype was shipped in November and University of Nevada, Reno and UC Davis scientists installed the first camera in the Tahoe forest that same month. “What Sony Europe did with this idea was amazing,” Buck said. ----------------------------------------- “The Forest Guards” documentary premiere Where: Placer High School Auditorium, 123 Agard St., Auburn When: 7 p.m. Saturday Admission: Free, but donations accepted