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WCS InvenTeam Again Earns Prestigious Grant from M.I.T.


Williamston High School Students Receive Invention Grant

Students to Create Autonomous Device to Address Plastic Pollution on Beaches

Williamston, Michigan, October 23, 2019 – A team of students at Williamston High School was recently awarded an InvenTeam grant of $10,000 from the Lemelson-MIT Program to create an autonomous device capable of identifying and collecting small plastic debris that is often missed by current beach cleaning methods. Williamston High School is one of only 14 schools nationwide to be chosen for the grant.

The 2019-20 InvenTeams, representing schools nationwide, comprised of students, teachers and community mentors, will pursue year-long invention projects. The InvenTeams initiative aims to inspire a new generation of inventors by engaging students in creative thinking, problem-solving and hands-on learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“I am impressed by this year’s InvenTeams and their commitment to solving important problems in society,” said Stephanie Couch, executive director of the Lemelson-MIT Program.  “By drawing on many different disciplines, the InvenTeam initiative helps shape well-rounded students who are better equipped to tackle the technological problems they will face in the modern workplace.”

Joe Rasmus, math teacher and Steve Kersten, technology teacher at Williamston High School, initiated the InvenTeams application process last fall with a group of students that were eager to be part of the InvenTeams program and make a difference in the world.  In June, Rasmus attended training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to prepare for the final application.  A respected panel of invention and academic leaders from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Lemelson-MIT Program, industry and InvenTeam student alumni selected this year’s InvenTeams from a national pool of applicants.

“This group of students has shown tremendous initiative and commitment thus far. I am excited to work with them through the many challenges of invention as we tackle this important problem,” said Rasmus.

The Williamston High School InvenTeam will spend the next eight months developing their invention, an autonomous device capable of locating and capturing the smaller pieces of plastic plaguing our beaches.  “The team and I are incredibly grateful for this opportunity given to us by the Lemelson-MIT Program. We plan to use this grant to clean up our Great Lakes in hopes of addressing a small part of the greater change that needs to occur in regards to the pressing issue of eliminating plastic pollution in our environment,” said Allyson, a team member.

In June, the students will showcase a prototype of their invention at EurekaFest™ in Washington, D.C.  EurekaFest™ is the Lemelson-MIT Program’s multi-day celebration of the inventive spirit.

The members of the team are: Will, Cam, Ethan, Emmett, Owen, Amanda, Katelyn, Gabe, Noah, Trucy, Nick, Faith, Jack, and Allyson. All are members of the school’s Mathematics and Science Academy, a program for students who enjoy and excel in STEM.

Read more about the grant here.

InvenTeam 2019