A team of students from Smithtown West High School in New York is among 13 teams nationwide awarded the prestigious Lemelsom-MIT InvenTeams® grant to invent solutions that solve real-world problems. Since the announcement of their award in the fall, the team has been hard at work on a device to monitor social distancing for students with autism spectrum disorders.
“Our invention, Personal Distance Monitor (PDM), is a device intended to help people monitor their personal space,” said team representative Alycia Broderick. “This was originally envisioned to aid students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, who oftentimes have trouble maintaining an appropriate personal space. However, our device also becomes beneficial in social distancing during our current global pandemic. We are currently building a functional prototype along with an app that works harmoniously with our PDM.”
InvenTeams are groups of high school students, educators and mentors that receive up to $10K in grant funding to invent technological solutions to real-world problems of their own choosing. The InvenTeams present their invention to their hometown communities in February and March, and showcase their final invention prototypes at the Lemelson-MIT Program’s annual culminating event, EurekaFest! EurekaFest! celebrates the inventive spirit and takes place virtually June 15 – 17, 2021.
The Smithtown West High School team will be hosting a free virtual community event on February 24 at 6:30 PM EST to showcase their progress and solicit feedback. Those interested can register at https://lemelson.mit.edu/news-events/upcoming-events.
“Since 2006, the InvenTeam initiative has been changing the way educators teach and providing young people – especially young women and students from underrepresented backgrounds – with creative problem-solving skills to flourish in college and career for over 15 years,” explained Stephanie Couch, Executive Director of Lemelson-LMIT.
“InvenTeam students rely on inquiry and hands-on problem solving as they integrate lessons from science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to develop invention prototypes,” said Couch. “Interactive, self-directed learning are essential for experiencing invention.”
The InvenTeam initiative teaches students to work in teams, while collaborating with intended users of their inventions. They partner with organizations in their communities to enrich their experiences. “Most of all, students learn to move forward through challenges and celebrate ‘Eureka!’ moments,” Couch added.
After the InvenTeam experience, inventive cultures often continue to prosper at schools through further development of InvenTeam prototypes or the pursuit of new invention projects. To date, twelve InvenTeams have patents for their InvenTeam projects, although, patents are not a requirement.
Other InvenTeams this school year include students from Texas, Michigan, Massachusetts, Florida, New Jersey, Minnesota, California, Georgia, and Wisconsin.