Newton North High School Students Receive Invention Grant
Newton North High School Students Receive Invention Grant to Create Pedestrian Alert System and Educational Component: Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam Initiative Inspires a New Generation of Inventors
(Press release written by Newton North student and InvenTeam communications leader Winnie Chen)
Newton North High School has received a $10,000 grant from Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam. The grant allows 24 Design and Visual Communications majors at Newton North to work together to create a Pedestrian Alert System for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The system will help pedestrians cross dangerous roads safely, provide a protected area for the pedestrians and warn drivers of crossing pedestrians. Newton North’s team is one of 16 from high schools nationwide to be selected as an InvenTeam this year.
InvenTeams, comprised of high school students, teachers and mentors, receive grants of up to $10,000 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. “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.”
Sue Brooks, the Design and Visual Communications teacher at Newton North, initiated the InvenTeam application process last spring and attended training at MIT in June to help prepare the final proposal. A panel of judges comprised of educators, researchers and MIT staff and graduates, as well as representatives from industry and former Lemelson-MIT Award winners, assembled this fall and chose Newton North as one of this year’s InvenTeam grantees.
The Newton North InvenTeam’s Pedestrian Alert System will incorporate a dual-sensor method that uses a processing platform to calculate the arrival time of an oncoming vehicle, Brooks said. To minimize environmental impact, the Newton North InvenTeam will build part of the system with used automotive parts and use solar energy to power it. Another part of the project is to increase awareness of road safety and inform people about the new system.
Among those working with the Newton North InvenTeam are: Pong Choa, a tech specialist at Sapient Nitro; Yared Gurmu, an Ethiopian citizen at the Harvard School of Public Health; Elizabeth Kneen, an engineer at Continuum; Alixandra Marrocco, Newton North ’06, an artist and sculptor; Todd Rafferty, a customer support leader of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.; Stu Schechter, an MIT alumnus and a sculptor and engineer at SandCart Studio; Joseph Schlesinger, Newton North ’04, an account supervisor at Gupta Media; Chris Tacklind, a Lemelson-MIT master teacher; Marianne Walpert, the director of TanzSolar Ltd.; Marc Weiss, Ph.D., MIT alumnus and a former chief scientist of the Naval Biodynamics Laboratory, New Orleans, La.; Dean Whitneg, a partner at Catapult Thinking; and Fei Wu, a senior producer at Digital Influence Group. Special liaisons, Wegene Tadele, Abiy Tasissa, Asmamaw Wassie, and Sara Zewde, who are Ethiopian citizens and students at MIT. The Newton North InvenTeam also plans to work with Solomon Mezgebu, who helped find St. Joseph Prep School, as a sister school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“The students have already been working hard on this project,” Brooks said. “Some worked all summer, conceptualizing the technical and design aspects of the invention. They made meaningful and informed decisions, applying their advanced and specialized design, math and science skills throughout the proposal process. I am so proud of what they have already accomplished and what they will achieve. They have a long road ahead of them as they go through the development process.”
Over the next eight months, the Newton North InvenTeam will develop its Pedestrian Alert System and Educational Component. In June, the students will showcase a functioning prototype of their invention at MIT's EurekaFest. 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.
About the Lemelson-MIT Program: Celebrating Innovation, Inspiring Youth
The Lemelson-MIT Program celebrates outstanding innovators 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. It is funded by The Lemelson Foundation and administered by the School of Engineering. The foundation sparks, sustains and celebrates innovation and the inventive spirit. It supports projects in the U.S. and developing countries that nurture innovators and unleash invention to advance economic, social and environmentally sustainable development. To date, The Lemelson Foundation has donated or committed more than U.S. $150 million in support of its mission.