Lemelson-MIT Program

Ideas Forward

Volume #1  Spring 2008

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Staff Spotlight

Leigh Estabrooks, InvenTeams Grants Officer: Woman on a Mission to Excite, Empower and Encourage a New Generation of Inventors

Leigh Estabrooks
Leigh Estabrooks during her visit at the Harley Davidson Headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Photo courtesy of the Lemelson-MIT Program

1. How long have you been a part of the Lemelson-MIT Program and what was your former job role?

I have been part of the Lemelson-MIT Program for almost two years. Prior to this program I was a public school teacher in Massachusetts.

2. What learning objectives do you aim for InvenTeam students to gain upon completion of this program initiative?

The final deliverable for all InvenTeams is a working prototype of their invention. In addition to building a working prototype, they are able to practice their learning and thinking skills, as well as their life skills. These skills need to be incorporated into schools deliberately, strategically and broadly. Life skills include leadership, ethics, accountability, people skills, and social responsibility, all of which InvenTeams helps develop.

3. What has been one of your chief accomplishments while working at the Lemelson-MIT Program?

One chief accomplishment has been to broaden the impact of the InvenTeams initiative by doubling the number of teachers to receive professional development on inventiveness, the invention process, and technical skills.

4. What goals do you hope to accomplish for InvenTeams in the next couple of years?

I want the initiative to grow both nationally and internationally. I'd like for InvenTeams to attract corporate sponsors to help us grow. In addition, I'd like to see the Lemelson-MIT Program with a middle school initiative as well as a high school initiative.

5. What do you consider to be the most rewarding part of your job?

Watching students have fun learning and working in a group is very rewarding. These kids truly have a blast.

6. What invention or innovation can you not live without at work?

I could not function without the World Wide Web.

7. What invention or innovation can you not live without at home?

Any invention that helps to make life easier by balancing family and work is essential. I couldn't be productive without a personal computer. Not only does it make things readily available, but also I am able to managing finances, help my kids with their homework, communicate, and even entertain.

8. Who are your favorite historical inventors and what did they create?

Johann Guttenberg's printing press from the 1400s was a transforming invention. Another one of my favorites is the telegraph and Morse code. Samuel Morse was a portrait painter yet he devised a way for people to communicate quickly over long distances! Morse code has been used for over 160 years. Some cell phones even have Morse code text messaging capability.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology