Cambridge, Mass., October 15, 2008 — Nearly 94 percent of adults and 80 percent of teens in the United
States believe the country needs to be more proficient in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), according to the 2008 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index.1 The Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam initiative addresses this critical issue; this year, 16 teams of high school students, teachers, and mentors will be given the opportunity to develop their STEM and problem-solving skills as they embark on an inventive journey.
The InvenTeam initiative is designed to excite high school students about invention through hands-on learning, while encouraging an inventive culture in schools and communities long-term. Each InvenTeam will receive up to $10,000 in grant funding to invent a practical solution to a real-world problem of their choosing. This year, the InvenTeams proposed inventions include an alternative energy refrigerator for northern climates, freeze protection system for citrus crops and a sensing guide cane for the visually impaired.
“These students represent a new generation of inventors,” says Leigh Estabrooks, the Lemelson-MIT Program’s invention education officer, who is responsible for managing the InvenTeam initiative. This year’s InvenTeams were selected based on ingenuity and demonstrated potential in creative thinking. “They will use the tools they gain during their InvenTeam experience as inspiration for what we hope is a lifetime of inventive thinking and doing.
“Invention has the potential to solve the world’s most pressing issues,” Estabrooks says. “It’s crucial that we empower students to identify problems and explore solutions as a means of development. This process provides them with technical and teambuilding skills necessary to manage multi-faceted, interdisciplinary projects.
The InvenTeam iniatitive ignites passion for science, technology, engineering, and math. Students will work through the various stages of design and development to create working prototypes. In June, the InvenTeams will showcase their inventive accomplishments 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 seek out mentor relationships with established 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 InvenTeams’ projects with additional funding, materials, and valuable insights from industry mentors. This year, Georgia Pacific’s Green Bay Operations will support one team in Wisconsin as a corporate sponsor of the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam
“The InvenTeam initiative focuses on real-world problem solving and turning ideas into accomplishments. This supports one of the Lemelson-MIT Program’s goals: to foster enthusiasm among youth to identify today’s problems and work on solutions that have the potential to improve our world,” notes Joshua Schuler, executive director of the Lemelson-MIT Program.
The 2008–2009 Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams come from public and private high schools in urban, suburban and rural communities across the United States. A prestigious panel of judges composed of educators and researchers from MIT and Harvard University, representatives from industry, MIT staff and alumni, and former Lemelson-MIT Program Award winners selected this year’s InvenTeams from a national pool of applicants. The grant recipients and their proposed inventions are:
- Bay Path Technical High School (Charlton, Mass.): Assistive mechanics creeper for car repair
- Brentwood High School (Brentwood, N.Y.): Biofilm membrane for oil remediation
- The Bromfield School (Harvard, Mass.): Sensing cane for the visually impaired
- Clarksburg High School (Clarksburg, Md.): Pressure-sensitive illuminated computer cable
- Norfolk Technical Center (Norfolk, Va.): Ultrasonic guide cane
- Oviedo High School (Oviedo, Fla.): Freeze protection system for citrus crops
- Teen Technology (Bridgewater, N.J.): Adaptive, pedal-operated multi-grain dehuller
- Whitewater High School (Fayetteville, Ga.): Solar dehydrator and dehumidifier for developing countries
- Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (Aurora, Ill.): Low-cost, durable water filtration system
- Tesla Engineering Charter School (Appleton, Wis.): Alternative energy refrigerator for northern climates
- Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (Denton, Texas): Ergonomic spool assembly system
- W.E. Stebbins High School (Riverside, Ohio): The ONE HANDy kitchen workstation
- Garfield-Palouse High School (Palouse, Wash.): Agricultural lift for people with disabilities
- Hunter High School (West Valley City, Utah): High-performance solar-electric watercraft
- Palos Verdes High School (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.): Cooperative cruise control for hybrid commuter cars
- San Juan High School (Blanding, Utah): Power-assisted litter device for search and rescue teams
In addition to the 16 new InvenTeams this year, matching grants of up to $2,000 will be awarded to select InvenTeams that desire to continue projects from earlier years. This helps to sustain students’ interest while building a culture of invention in their schools and communities.
InvenTeams applications for the 2009–2010 school year are now available at http://web.mit.edu/inventeams/.
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.
1 The 2008 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index adult survey was conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation from December 13-16, 2007. A nationally representative sample of 1,013 adults was used. The margin of error was +/- 3.2 percent for adults. The 2008 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index teen survey was conducted by Weekly Reader from December 14-16, 2007. A nationally representative sample of 1,004 teens was used. The margin of error was +/- 3.1 percent for teens.