By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
Vandegrift High School was awarded a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant in the amount of $8,900 to create an indoor personal mapping device for the visually impaired. Vandegrift’s all-girl team is one of 15 high schools nationwide to be selected as an InvenTeam this year.
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. Jerome Lemelson, one of U.S. history’s most prolific inventors, and his wife, Dorothy, founded the program.
“Students are seeing issues affecting others around them, and responding quickly with original and useful ideas to technically solve problems,” said Leigh Estabrooks, invention education officer for the Lemelson-MIT Program.
Rad Allen, computer science and robotics teacher at Vandegrift, initiated the InvenTeam application process last spring. He attended training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in June to help prepare the final proposal. A 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 VHS as one of this year’s InvenTeam grantees.
The VHS InvenTeam will use their grant money to build a GPS enabled device designed to help users identify and share locations such as rooms, staircases and emergency exits. With the use of this product, the team hopes to improve personal independence of their visually impaired users and encourage them to venture out to more unfamiliar places.
“I am extremely excited to be mentoring the only all-girls team selected by MIT this year. They have demonstrated such dedication to excellence during the proposal phase. I look forward to continue working with them in the coming months,” said Catherine Bui, lead mentor of the team.
The team advisor is Shakeel Rashed and other parent and community mentors will guide the students through the development of their invention.
Over the next 10 months, the VHS InvenTeam will develop its GPS enabled identification device. 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.