By Ken MacLeod

LEOMINSTER (CBS) — The NFL is spending tens of millions of dollars trying to figure out how to prevent concussions.

A trio of sixth graders in Leominster may have come up with a way that costs a lot less.

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They looked at the traditional football helmet and the padding inside. Now, their solution is getting attention.

Next month, the trio will tote their testing contraption to Washington, having just won the regional competition.

Eric Jenny, John Liddy and Christopher Mabie say their idea gelled when they noted so many football stars suffering from concussions.

The contest is called eCYBERMISSION and challenges students to identify a real-world problem and come up with a solution.

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Their research evolved into a modified hockey helmet, a homemade device used to measure force, and several types of padding, which they tested both inside and outside the hard shell.

When they graphed the results, they were amazed.

They took their findings to a helmet maker and a neurologist.

Dr. Doug Katz is a brain injury specialist bent on reducing the nearly four million concussions suffered by Americans every year.

“I find it very exciting,” Katz said. “It caught my attention that these young people were looking into the same issue.”

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And now, each could pocket a $200 savings bond at the national competition in DC and the middle school students say they have what it takes to win.

Ken MacLeod