A few years ago, Pam Omidyar, who’s married to eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and is a former biomedical researcher, started HopeLab, a non-profit foundation that explores ways that technology can help fight childhood diseases. Among its accomplishments is Re:Mission, a videogame that encourages kids with cancer to stay on their meds (it’s now been downloaded more than 100,000 times).
Now HopeLab is branching out into childhood obesity, which is a serious problem–more than 25 million kids nationwide are overweight. They’ve launched a contest, called Ruckus Nation, that’s "looking for great ideas that will get kids moving". People of all ages are invited to submit ideas for new products (could be something like Dance Dance Revolution [shown] or the Nintendo Wii or even just the new hula hoop) that will catch on and ultimately increase physical activity among kids.
More than $300,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded. One idea will receive more than $75,000 as grand prize winner. HopeLab will develop one or more of the winning ideas from Ruckus Nation into prototypes that can be tested to determine their effectiveness — successful prototypes will be turned into real products and distributed broadly over the next couple of years.
The organizers write:
As you can see from the competition website, we’ve tried to make this a very kid-friendly competition. We’re thinking that there are probably GeekDads out there who might be interested in getting a group of kids together to enter the competition. The prizes are structured so that there will be two category winners in the middle school bracket, two in high school, two in college, and two in other. All 8 teams of category winners will receive over $25,000 with the grand prize winner receiving $50,000 more.