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High school students receive Lemelson-MIT Program invention grants

InvenTeam grants awarded to students at 15 high schools nationwide to help bring their innovative ideas to life.

The Lemelson-MIT Program recently awarded 15 teams of high school students up to $10,000 each in grant funding as part of its InvenTeam initiative, which encourages students to invent technological solutions to real-world problems.

The aim is to show this select group of high school students what is possible in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) — areas known to play a significant role in boosting the economy.

“STEM-related jobs have been predicted to outweigh non-STEM jobs over the next 10 years. Further, studies show that STEM careers are among the fastest growing job sectors,” says Joshua Schuler, executive director of the Lemelson-MIT Program. “The Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam initiative helps students foster skills in these fields so they are better prepared to make both a social and economic impact through their career choices.”

The InvenTeam projects are largely driven by current events, outlining inventive solutions to address challenges in healthcare, the environment and safety in schools. This year’s teams, representing high schools from Alaska to Washington, D.C., will pursue yearlong, hands-on invention projects that merge STEM education with creative thinking and technical skills. Proposed invention projects include a safety bracelet for Alzheimer’s patients, a coffee pod recycler, and an emergency door-locking mechanism.

“The inventions that this year’s teams have undertaken focus heavily on improving the safety and wellbeing of those in their communities. I feel optimistic that the students are seeing issues affecting others around them, and responding quickly with original and useful ideas to technically solve problems,” says Leigh Estabrooks, invention education officer for the Lemelson-MIT Program.

A respected panel of InvenTeam student alumni and invention and academic leaders from MIT, the Lemelson-MIT Program, and industry selected the InvenTeams from a national pool of applicants.

This year’s Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams and their proposed inventions in three categories:

Safety First
  • Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington D.C.: school emergency door-locking mechanism
  • Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka, Alaska: search-and-rescue Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
  • School of Dreams Academy in Los Lunas, N.M.: remote sensing protection for stationary police vehicles
  • SOAR High School in Lancaster, Calif.: alcohol level detection bracelet
  • Tenafly High School in Tenafly, N.J.: Alzheimer’s patients’ safety bracelet
  • Wausau West High School in Wausau, Wis.: autonomous snow removal devic
Inventing Green
  • Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School in Bridgewater, Mass.: coffee pod recycler
  • Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Ore.: aquatic vegetation collector
  • Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies in Edison, N.J.: crop-spraying Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
  • Providence Day School in Charlotte, N.C.: pedal-powered generator for classroom desks
  • Sand Creek High School in Colorado Springs, Colo.: biosand-mechanical filter for water sanitation
  • Wallenpaupack Area High School in Hawley, Pa.: lake wave generator
Into the Future
  • Elkins High School in Missouri, Texas: washer for 3-D glasses
  • St. Francis DeSales High School in Columbus, Ohio: automatic page-turner
  • Vandegrift High School in Austin, Texas: personal indoor GPS device
The InvenTeams will showcase their projects at EurekaFest in June, which is the Lemelson-MIT Program’s public, multi-day celebration of the inventive spirit at MIT.

InvenTeam applications for the 2014–2015 school year are now available at Teams of high school students, teachers and mentors are encouraged to apply.

Jerome H. Lemelson, one of U.S. history’s most prolific inventors, and his wife Dorothy founded the Lemelson-MIT Program at MIT in 1994. It is funded by The Lemelson Foundation and administered by the School of Engineering.

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