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Teens Aim to Make a Difference Through Invention:
15 High Schools Awarded Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam Grants to Tackle Real-World Problems

Grant Applications Now Available for 2010 – 2011 School Year

Cambridge, Mass., October 20, 2009 — Today, the Lemelson-MIT Program announced 15 teams of high school students, teachers and mentors selected to participate in the 2009–2010 InvenTeam initiative. The teams will pursue year-long invention projects and be provided with hands-on access to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

The Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam initiative is a national grants program designed to excite the next generation of inventors and problem solvers through hands-on learning, while encouraging an inventive culture in schools and communities. Each InvenTeam will receive up to $10,000 in grant funding to create a technological solution to a real-world problem of their choosing. InvenTeam projects this year include a portable, human-powered UV water filtration device, a physical therapy chair designed to reduce muscular atrophy, and a temperature-sensitive color-changing roof to combat global warming.

“This year’s projects show an increased focus on invention as a way to improve the world,” says Leigh Estabrooks, the Lemelson-MIT Program’s invention education officer, who manages the InvenTeam initiative. “It’s encouraging that teens recognize the power of invention in solving real-world problems; they’ll be able to translate the skills learned through their InvenTeam experience into careers that focus on inventive thinking while improving society.”

InvenTeam students will work through the various stages of design and development to create invention prototypes. In June, they will showcase these prototypes at EurekaFest, a multi-day celebration of the inventive spirit, presented by the Lemelson-MIT Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) campus in Cambridge, Mass.

Students are encouraged to establish mentor relationships with professionals from industry, academia, and municipalities in their communities, in addition to working with fellow classmates and their teachers. In many cases, local companies support InvenTeam projects with additional funding, materials and valuable mentorship insights. This year’s teams tap into the expertise of professors and researchers from associated colleges, universities, museums, hospitals and local businesses.

“Connecting the students with mentors in related fields further encourages them to discover invention and exposes them to a new realm of possibilities, making STEM careers more accessible,” said Joshua Schuler, executive director of the Lemelson-MIT Program.

Members of the 2009–2010 Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam initiative are drawn from public high schools in rural, suburban, and urban communities across the United States; more than half are from urban schools and for the first time, InvenTeams have been selected from the states of West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Arizona and Nebraska.

A prestigious panel of judges composed of educators and researchers from MIT and Harvard University, industry representatives, MIT staff and alumni, and former Lemelson-MIT Program Award winners select the InvenTeams from a national pool of applicants. They are selected based on ingenuity and demonstrated potential in creative thinking. The 2009–2010 grant recipients and their proposed inventions are:

East

  • Commack High School (Commack, N.Y.): Standby-power usage reduction device
  • Staten Island Technical High School (Staten Island, N.Y.): Comfort control wheelchair seating
  • Washington County Technical High School (Hagerstown, Md.): Temperature-sensitive, color-changing roof to combat global warming

Central

  • Omaha Benson High School Magnet (Omaha, Neb.): Outdoor, self-sustaining, solar powered hydroponic gardening system
  • Science Museum of Minnesota (Saint Paul, Minn.): Portable watercraft transfer device for people with disabilities
  • University Laboratory High School (Urbana, Ill.): Effluent removal apparatus for sustainable aquaculture

South

  • Columbus High School (Columbus, Ga.): Portable, inexpensive device to predict high-probability conditions for lightning strikes
  • Cypress Bay High School (Weston, Fla.): Portable, human-powered, UV water filtration device
  • Greenbrier West High School (Charmco, W.Va.): Wetland assessment system for multi-spectral photography, moisture sensing and data retrieval
  • Hillside New Technical High School (Durham, N.C.): Residential green roofing system for sloped surfaces
  • Hopewell High School (Hopewell, Va.): Ergonomic, interactive student desk
  • Oak Ridge High School (Oak Ridge, Tenn.): Micro-scale hydroelectric water purifier

West

  • Cesar Chavez High School (Laveen, Ariz.): Motorized physical therapy chair to reduce muscular atrophy
  • Trevor Browne High School (Phoenix, Ariz.): Simple, human-powered drill tiller
  • Woodrow Wilson Classical High School (Long Beach, Calif.): Air resistance and energy conversion system to increase energy efficiency of trains

In addition to the 15 new InvenTeams this year, continuation grants of up to $2,000 will be awarded to select teams interested in pursuing projects from the previous year. Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam applications for the 2010–2011 school year are now available at http://web.mit.edu/inventeams/. Teams of high school students and mentors are encouraged to apply.

About the Lemelson-MIT Program

The Lemelson-MIT Program recognizes outstanding inventors, encourages sustainable new solutions to real-world problems, and enables 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 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994. The Lemelson Foundation, which funds the program, is a private philanthropy that celebrates and supports inventors and entrepreneurs to strengthen social and economic life.

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