The Lemelson-MIT Program has announced the 2017-2018 InvenTeams, 15 teams of high school students nationwide, each receiving up to $10,000 in grant funding to solve open-ended problems they’ve recognized from their local communities. Two examples of the types of technological solutions to problems InvenTeams are creating include reducing the population of mosquitoes due to flooding after hurricanes and ways of preventing biodiesel fuel from gelling at lower temperatures so that it will be a viable alternative to fossil fuel in more geographies.
The InvenTeam initiative, now in its 15th year, inspires youth to invent technological solutions to real-world problems of their own choosing. The 2017-2018 InvenTeams are comprised of students, teachers and community mentors that will pursue year-long invention projects. The InvenTeam initiative engages students in creative thinking, problem-solving and hands-on learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). InvenTeams apply their learnings and experiences to build an invention that will be showcased at EurekaFest at MIT in June 2018, and after a mid-grant technical review within their home community in February 2018.
"My experience as a student member of the 2012 Northeast High School InvenTeam was extremely inspiring,” said Clara Mabour, now a biology teacher at her alma mater, Northeast High School in Oakland Park, Florida. “InvenTeams gave me an inventive spirit. I graduated [from college] with a degree in environmental science with a focus on water because of my InvenTeam project. I’m now leading my first team of students through their own InvenTeam experience. I want to inspire my students and teach biology in the hands-on approach I learned through InvenTeams because I believe it’s the most effective form of teaching.”
“It is exciting to see an InvenTeam alumna come back to apply for an InvenTeam grant as an educator,” said Leigh Estabrooks, invention education officer at the Lemelson-MIT Program. “It’s truly rewarding to see the inventive mindset that the InvenTeam initiative instilled in Clara as well as in other students. Invention starts with finding a good problem to solve. Young people who find a problem that is meaningful to them will work long and hard with their team to build a working prototype. This passion and perseverance encourages them to lead inventive lives beyond the grant year.”
The InvenTeams are located in 12 different states, with the state of Hawaii receiving its first InvenTeam grant. The invention projects were selected by a respected panel from the Cambridge and Boston area consisting of university professors, inventors, entrepreneurs, intellectual property lawyers, industry professionals, and college students. The team projects address problems that affect their local community, family members, classmates or a community connection.
Solving problems in their community
- Bayonne High School (Bayonne, New Jersey): System to remotely monitor water quality for the Newark, New Jersey Shipping Channel
- Kealakehe High School (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii): Detection and alert system for the blood alcohol content of drivers
- Northeast High School (Oakland Park, Florida): Device to deter mosquitoes from laying eggs in standing water
- American Passage at Maria Regina High School (Hartsdale, New York): Device worn by pedestrians to alert drivers of their presence
- Battle Creek Math and Science Center (Battle Creek, Michigan): Device to detect and alert drivers of deer in roadways
Solving problems for family members/classmates
- Garey High School (Pomona, California): Device to monitor and trim toe nails for people with diabetic neuropathy
- Chattahoochee High School (Johns Creek, Gerogia): Device to adapt manual wheelchairs for difficult terrain
- Dublin High School (Dublin, California): Device allowing people in wheelchairs to participate in ball sports
- Dayton High School (Dayton, Oregon): System to monitor and automate home chicken coops
- SOAR Early College High School (Lancaster, California): System to alert college students of potential dangers in their proximity
Solving problems for community connections
- Frederick County Career and Technology Center (Frederick, Maryland): System to remediate well water for Melka Olba School in rural Ethiopia
- Fairview High School (Fairview, Pennsylvania): System comprised of a stethoscope and self-cleaning carrying case for clinical settings
- Energy Institute High School (Houston, Texas): Device to prevent biodiesel from gelling at low temperatures
- Tesla Engineering Charter School (Appleton, Wisconsin): System to process sustainable cooking fuel for the Village of Hope in Zambia
- St. Vrain Valley Schools Innovation Center (Longmont, Colorado): System to alert first responders of people in distress in areas without cell phone reception
Calling all young inventors!
The Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam application for the 2018-2019 school year is now available a lemelson.mit.edu/inventeams. Teams of high school students, teachers, and mentors are encouraged to apply now through April 9, 2018.