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Eureka! Lemelson-MIT and Museum of Science host celebration of inventors and inventions

The Lemelson-MIT Program, in partnership with the Museum of Science, Boston, kicks off EurekaFest, a multiday celebration of activities to fuel the inventive spirit.

EurekaFest events will be held May 2-5 at MIT and the Museum of Science. Most events are open to the public.

The partnership's goal for EurekaFest is to "ignite a creative spark that inspires young people and others interested in invention to believe they, too, can contribute to society," said Merton Flemings, director of the Lemelson-MIT Program.

Ioannis (Yannis) Miaoulis, president and director of the Museum of Science, echoed Flemings' enthusiasm for this first-ever event.

"We are very pleased to collaborate with the Lemelson-MIT Program. The hands-on engineering activities, combined with special guest presentations, are a perfect complement to the museum's programs," Miaoulis said.

One highlight event of EurekaFest is "The Windy 500," an engineering design challenge created to "drive" interest and enthusiasm among more than 100 Massachusetts high school students and their teachers.

Student teams will collaborate on a surprise project with science and engineering mentors in a race against time and each other. Tom and Ray Magliozzi, a.k.a. Click and Clack, the hosts of "Car Talk" from National Public Radio, will be on hand to declare one team the victor of "The Windy 500." They will also present several other awards, including "The Most Inventive Use of Duct Tape" award and the "Oh No, I Can't Believe It!" award.

"The Windy 500" runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Museum of Science on Friday, May 4. Museum visitors can watch student teams race their designs from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

The 2007 winners of the $30,000 Lemelson-sponsored student prizes--Nathan Ball from MIT, Brian Schulkin from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Michael Callahan from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign--will join a panel discussion, "Inventors Who Shape Our World," at the Museum of Science on Thursday, May 3 at 3 p.m.

Also speaking in "Inventors Who Shape Our World," beginning at 4 p.m., are MacArthur Professor of Chemistry Timothy Swager, the 2007 winner of the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize, and Dartmouth College engineering professor Lee Lynd, the 2007 winner of the $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainability. Among Swager's inventions is an amplified chemical sensor that can detect vapors of common explosives, such as TNT.  Lynd's work focuses on the cost-effective conversion of cellulosic biomass into ethanol for fuel.

Both sessions are open to the public and included with the Museum of Science exhibit halls admission.

Two other accomplished inventors, Iqbal Quadir and H. Harish Hande, will lead a day-long workshop at MIT titled "Invention to Venture: Affordable Technology" on Saturday, May 5 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Quadir founded Grameenphone, the largest and fastest-growing mobile phone company in Bangladesh, and Hande co-founded Solar Energy Light Company, which provides infrastructure solutions to underserved households and businesses in the developing world. The National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance is collaborating with the Lemelson-MIT Program on the workshop. Advance registration is required; visit the "Invention to Venture" web site for more information:

For a full list of events, times and locations, visit

Admission to the events at the Museum of Science is free for MIT students with a valid ID. 

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 2, 2007 (download PDF).

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