"InvenTeams helped me grow to understand the world around me and what I can do to help solve problems. I found InvenTeams to be fun and enjoyable, and I am willing to recommend it to everyone I know."
Owen Rickey, St. Thomas Academy InvenTeam student (2008)
Announcing the InvenTeams
The Lemelson-MIT Program announces a new class of InvenTeams each October, which begins the nine-month grant cycle. InvenTeams garner positive publicity for their school and community throughout the cycle, beginning with the press release.
Brainstorming, Designing, Building ... Inventing
Many InvenTeams delegate roles to initiate work. Organization can maximize team productivity.
There is no manual for the InvenTeam grant cycle. Each InvenTeam creates an individual path due to project variation. However, most experience the cycle through three phases.
- Gather additional research about users' needs, competitive products, and existing patents, if necessary
- Brainstorm ideas for solutions
- Conceptualize several solutions
- Investigate the feasibility of each solution
- Select the best solution
- Create a detailed design using tools such as SolidWorks 3D CAD software
- Determine materials and resources
- Construct and test experimental prototypes
- Field test prototypes
- Build alpha prototype
InvenTeams access information and resources through a private portal on the InvenTeam website. They also manage their finances and submit reports there. During the grant cycle, a Lemelson-MIT employee may visit an InvenTeam at its school to review its progress.
Reporting and Documenting Work
InvenTeams write updates on the InvenTeams’ Blog and share digital photos and videos of their work to report their progress. Many will also engage media to publicize significant milestones. InvenTeams are required to submit two formal reports:
- Mid-Year Progress Report: Details process and achievements during the first half of the cycle, plus plans for future development.
- Summary Report: Includes an executive summary, description of invention, and design process, plus additional sections, due upon completion of the grant cycle.
Celebrating the InvenTeam Experience at MIT
In June, students, teachers, and mentors representing each InvenTeam travel to Cambridge, Mass., for the Lemelson-MIT Program's EurekaFest, a multi-day celebration of the inventive spirit. During EurekaFest, InvenTeams showcase their prototypes at a public exhibit and attend workshops for guidance on sustaining an inventive culture. Select InvenTeams will formally present their projects to attendees.
True success for each InvenTeam is students having fun throughout the grant cycle.