"Due to InvenTeams, I learned life long lessons like responsibility, working together, and leadership, and I have become more mature. "
Sonu Varughese, Farmington Harrison High School InvenTeam student (2008)
What are Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams?
Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams are teams of high school students, teachers, and mentors that receive grants up to $10,000 each to invent technological solutions to real-world problems.
The InvenTeam initiative is designed to excite high school students about invention through science, technology, engineering, and math; empower students to problem solve; and encourage an inventive culture in schools and communities.
The Lemelson-MIT Program created the initiative to inspire a new generation of inventors.
Who funds the InvenTeam initiative?
| Columbus School for Girls InvenTeam (2007)
The Lemelson-MIT Program awards InvenTeam grants and manages the initiative. The Lemelson-MIT Program is a grantee of the Lemelson Foundation, and it is administered at MIT.
Corporate sponsorships supplement financial support for InvenTeams. Some InvenTeams independently choose to partner with external organizations and mentors for additional donations and resources.
Who is eligible to apply for InvenTeam grants?
Science, mathematics, and technology teachers from public, private, and vocational high schools may apply. Inter-school collaborations, like the integration of InvenTeam projects with school programs and classes, are encouraged.
How do I apply, and what is the deadline?
The initial application opens each fall and is due the following spring. Selected finalists are notified in the spring and asked to complete a final application due the following September. The grants are awarded in October. The program will begin accepting 2013-2014 InvenTeams applications in October 2012. The deadline is April 5, 2013. Applications must be completed online: http://web.mit.edu/inventeams/apply.html.
How many students participate on an InvenTeam?
An InvenTeam can be composed of a small group of students as an extracurricular activity or an entire class. There is no size requirement. An InvenTeam that is fewer than five or more than 25 students could pose a challenge in regard to completing sufficient work and organization. Student diversity is encouraged.
What is the teacher's role in an InvenTeam?
The teacher, assisted by students, is required to apply for the grant. The teacher also recruits students, monitors funds, and supports students through their process. The teacher is advised to work with students in the spirit of self-directed learning.
How may the grant be used?
The grant may be used to purchase materials and supplies necessary for the discovery process and expenses related to product development and team-building efforts (including snacks, meals, and team shirts). Funds may also be used for unrestricted teacher stipends (up to $2,000), if the project is conducted as an extracurricular activity or club. Funds may not be used to purchase capital equipment such as computers or pay for intellectual property filing costs.
What are the grant's requirements of to ensure funding through the complete cycle?
Each InvenTeam is required to submit progress and expense reports on scheduled dates throughout the grant's cycle, culminating with a summary report that details process and design, addresses the viability of its invention, and discusses next steps. A physical prototype is also required to provide concrete evidence of the invention, e.g., CD of new software, photos of large-scale projects, or physical results of biological/chemical experiments is also due at this time. Each InvenTeam is required to showcase its prototype during the Lemelson-MIT Program's annual EurekaFest festivities.
Is the InvenTeam initiative a competition?
No, the initiative is not a competition. It is a collaborative approach to build problem-solving skills and foster creativity, which is essential to invent. InvenTeams display and discuss their prototypes with each other and guests from the community at EurekaFest.
What are Excite Awards?
Excite Awards are given to teacher applicants who have submitted the initial application and have been selected to complete the final application. Excite Award recipients are invited to the current year's EurekaFest, where they participate in workshops about invention and learn about the experience first-hand from InvenTeams that are in their prototype phase. The Lemelson-MIT Program provides travel, food, and lodging for Excite Award recipients to attend EurekaFest.
How can InvenTeams receive external support?
InvenTeams are encouraged to seek industry, academic, or municipal partners to help carry out their projects. Involving partners that have experience inventing can be invaluable. Lemelson-MIT Program staff will assist in identifying mentors, including MIT alumni, to help advise InvenTeams on their projects. The InvenTeam website provides resources and materials made available from partners. Inter-team communication is encouraged to share advice.
How are InvenTeam applications evaluated?
Initial applications are evaluated relative to the capacity of the teacher(s) and school to support the project. The final selection is based on the inventiveness and feasibility of the proposed idea. MIT professors and staff, inventors, researchers, entrepreneurs, and high school educators assess the applications.
Are funds available for InvenTeams to continue work on their prototypes after they have completed their grants?
Continuation Grants offer up to $2,000 per InvenTeam to assist continued work after an InvenTeam has completed its grant cycle. Interested InvenTeams must submit a brief application and secure at least $2,000 of supplemental funding from local sources. Continuation Grants, available for one additional year beyond the initial grant cycle, help encourage and sustain a culture of inventiveness among InvenTeam schools and communities.