S. S. Seward students receive $7,615 invention grant

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:56

Students will work Zircar Refractory Composites to create portable, solar-powered autoclave Florida — S. S. Seward Institute has been awarded a $7,615 Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant to create a portable, solar-powered autoclave to be used by health care professionals to sterilize equipment and supplies where there is no electricity available. 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. Entering its ninth year, this initiative of the Lemelson-MIT Program aims to inspire a new generation of inventors. Ernest VanderKruik, teacher and club advisor at Seward, initiated the InvenTeam application process last spring and 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 S. S. Seward as one of this year’s InvenTeam grants. S. S. Seward Institute is one of 16 teams nationwide and the only public school in New York to be selected as an InvenTeam this year. The students will be constructing a portable, solar powered autoclave to sterilize medical instruments for use by health care providers providing service where no electricity is available. Students have focused on remote areas in Africa as their inspiration. The S. S. Seward InvenTeam will also work with Zircar Refractory Composites, Inc., and Thomas Hamling of ZRCI, who will assist the students through the development of their invention. Zircar, based in the Village of Florida, specializes in the use of ceramics to produce solar energy. “The partnership between our InvenTeam and ZRCI was a natural one,” VanderKruik said in the school’s press release announcing the grant. “Their expertise in this area will be critical to our student’s success in constructing a working prototype.” Next generation of inventors Over the next nine months, the Seward InvenTeam will develop its portable, solar-powered autoclave. 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. “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 and innovation, in turn inspiring them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering or math.”