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. This initiative of the Lemelson-MIT Program aims to inspire a new generation of inventors.
“The InvenTeams program represents the future,” said Leigh Estabrooks, invention education officer from the Lemelson-MIT Program. “We place an emphasis on STEM-focused projects to develop interest in these fields among youth. With InvenTeams, our primary goal is to foster high school students’ passion for invention, in turn inspiring them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering or math.”
Jonathan Butler, biology teacher and co-teacher of Beaver’s Engineering Design class, and Laura Nickerson, Physics teacher, FIRST Robotics coach and co-teacher of the Engineering Design class at Beaver Country Day School initiated the InvenTeam application process last spring and attended training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in June to help prepare the final proposal. A prestigious panel of judges composed of educators, researchers, staff and alumni from MIT, as well as representatives from the industry and former Lemelson-MIT Award winners, assembled this fall and selected Beaver Country Day School as one of this year’s InvenTeam grantees.
The Beaver Country Day School InvenTeam will develop a hands-free, quasi-autonomous device called JARVIS, or Just an Automated Robotic Vehicular Independence System, that will carry up to 50 pounds of secured cargo for persons in a wheelchair or who need hands-free help in transporting cargo. Unlike current wheelchair backpacks and tethered trailers, this unit will follow the user without wires or tethers. The initial concept came from students who carry laundry, groceries, etc. for a beloved teacher at Beaver who uses a wheelchair, however the device can be adapted for use in airports or train stations as well. The initial prototype will cost $2-3K, but the InvenTeam is committed to bringing the price of the unit to under $800.
The Beaver Country Day School InvenTeam will also work with the NuVu, a full-time magnet innovation center for middle and high school students and a professional development program for teachers and educators, which will guide the students through the development of their invention.
“It is exciting to see that the dedication of the Beaver InvenTeam students has been rewarded with the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant,” said Peter Hutton, Head of School at Beaver Country Day School. ” The JARVIS robot was inspired by one of Beaver’s own community members to provide independence and accessibility to all. At Beaver we believe in the power of learning through real world experiences, and this project is another example of what students can achieve when they undertake complex open-ended challenges with no obvious solution.”
Over the next nine months, the Beaver Country Day School InvenTeam will develop JARVIS. In June, the students will showcase a prototype of their invention at EurekaFest at MIT in Cambridge, Mass. EurekaFest, presented by the Lemelson-MIT Program, is a multi-day celebration designed to empower a legacy of inventors through activities that inspire youth, honor role models and encourage creativity and problem solving.
Congrats to students and faculty members instrumental in making this happen!