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Lemelson-MIT Program expands invention education opportunities for middle and high school students

Free invention activity guides available to educators nationwide to bring hands-on learning to the classroom.
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JV InvenTeams work on invention activities.
JV InvenTeams work on invention activities.
Photos: Lemelson-MIT Program

The Lemelson–MIT Program announced today the expansion of the Junior Varsity (JV) InvenTeam initiative, adding California to its geographic line up of student teams in Massachusetts, Oregon, and Texas. The initiative launched in 2014 and equips educators with invention-based activity guides, materials, and tools to enhance science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education through hands-on skill building. JV InvenTeam activity guides are available for any educator to download.

“There is a need for hands-on invention experiences in the classroom for middle and high school students,” said Leigh Estabrooks, Lemelson-MIT Program invention education officer. “The JV InvenTeam initiative reinforces integrated STEM learning and offers a structured, fun, and team-oriented environment for students to solve problems. These enrichment experiences engage youth by making science relevant to the real world. Students can begin to envision a future in the STEM workforce.”

The JV InvenTeam initiative is helping to build an ecosystem of invention within each team’s community. Teams of students in grades 7-10 will have the opportunity to create useful and unique invention projects and explore STEM opportunities on a college campus. Educators are offered support from local partner organizations, including 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Boys & Girls Clubs, and museums. Corporate sponsor Stanley Black and Decker has generously equipped the teams with a donation of hand and power tools to help students develop new skill sets in inventive thinking and doing.

There are 37 JV InvenTeams from 27 schools in California, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Texas that represent a diverse group of students in grades 7-10 from public, public charter, and magnet schools. JV InvenTeams in each geographical location are offered a "Campus Connection," a unique opportunity to visit a college campus.

California JV InvenTeams

Campus Connection: Antelope Valley College

  • Boys and Girls Club of Carson at King Drew Medical Magnet High School (Los Angeles)
  • Boys and Girls Club of Carson at Alain Leroy Locke College Preparatory Academy (Los Angeles)
  • Downtown Magnets High School (Los Angeles)
  • JetSpace at Alain Leroy Locke College Preparatory Academy (Los Angeles; two teams)
  • Knight Preparatory Academy (Palmdale)
  • SOAR Preparatory Academy (Lancaster)
  • West Valley Boys and Girls Club at Canoga Park High School (Canoga Park)

Massachusetts JV InvenTeams

Campus Connection: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • 21st Century Baystate Springfield Educational Partnership at Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy (Springfield)
  • Alfred G. Zanetti Montessori Magnet School (Springfield) 
  • Chelsea High School (Chelsea)
  • Expanding Horizons: Salem Public Schools and LEAP for Education (Salem) 
  • Lowell High School (Lowell)
  • Pittsfield High School in partnership with the Berkshire Museum (Pittsfield) 
  • Monument Valley Middle School in partnership with the Berkshire Museum (Great Barrington)
  • The English High School (Jamaica Plain) 
  • Wareham Middle School (Wareham)

Oregon JV InvenTeams

Campus Connection: Portland State University

  • Dayton High School (Dayton; six teams)
  • Oregon City Service Learning Academy (Oregon City; four teams)
  • ScienceWorks Museum/Ashland Middle School (Ashland)
  • Siuslaw High School (Florence; two teams)

Texas JV InvenTeams

Campus Connection: University of Houston

  • Energy Institute High School (Houston)
  • KIPP Generations Collegiate High School (Houston) 
  • KIPP Houston High School (Houston) 
  • Paul Revere Middle School (Houston)
  • Sharpstown International School (Houston)
  • Waller High School (Waller)
  • Yes Prep Brays Oaks (Houston)

“As a science educator, I always believe there can be more hands-on STEM projects in our classes. When students are able to work collaboratively on a design, they are building life skills of communicating, problem solving, and planning,” said Bethany Taft, JV InvenTeam educator with Oregon City Service Learning Academy. “Now using the JV InvenTeam activity guides, we see students being more creative in their problem solving, applying their prior knowledge to new situations, and communicating better with their peers.”

The initiative, supported by The Lemelson Foundation, builds upon InvenTeams, the Lemelson-MIT Program’s national grants initiative engaging high school students in invention education activities. Additional partnership opportunities are available for corporations, universities, civic groups, nonprofits, and private foundations interested in cultivating inventiveness among students in grades 7-10 underserved in STEM. Visit the Lemelson-MIT website for more information.

The Lemelson-MIT Program celebrates outstanding inventors and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention. 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 at MIT, an institution with a strong ongoing commitment to creating meaningful opportunities for K-12 STEM education.

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