March 18, 2015

Student inventors from SOAR (Students on the Academic Rise) High School in Lancaster, Calif. and Wallenpaupack Area High School in Hawley, Penn. are among more than 100 students from more than 25 states honored to showcase their Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam projects to President Obama at the fifth White House Science Fair on March 23, 2015. Students from around the country will attend the event, which recognizes winners from a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions. Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam members have been selected to attend the White House Science Fair every year that it has been held since 2010.

The White House Science Fair fulfills a commitment the President made at the launch of his Educate to Innovate campaign in November 2009 - to inspire boys and girls to excel in math and science. The President noted at the 2014 White House Science Fair, “As a society, we have to celebrate outstanding work by young people in science at least as much as we do Super Bowl winners. Because superstar biologists and engineers and rocket scientists and robot-builders… they’re what’s going to transform our society. They’re the folks who are going to come up with cures for diseases and new sources of energy, and help us build healthier, more successful societies.”

Jonathan Hernandez and Fanta Sinayoko from SOAR High School InvenTeam at the White House Science FairJonathan Hernandez and Fanta Sinayoko from SOAR High School InvenTeam at the White House Science FairThe students from California and Pennsylvania were honored for their teams’ achievements as 2013-2014 Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant recipients from the Lemelson-MIT Program. The InvenTeam initiative inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention. InvenTeams are granted up to $10,000 each to conceptualize, design and build technological solutions to real-world problems. Teams are then invited to showcase their prototypes at MIT each spring; the SOAR High School and Wallenpaupack Area High School InvenTeams showcased their inventions in May 2014.

Jonathan Hernandez and Fanta Sinayoko will represent the SOAR High School InvenTeam. The team designed and provisionally patented a blood alcohol content (BAC) detection wristband, named ëris. The device is one eighth of the size of traditional technologies and is less costly than comparable breathalyzers available on the market. Jonathan, Fanta and their InvenTeam are currently working with the intellectual property community in anticipation of filing a utility patent. At least one company has expressed interest in a licensing agreement.

Corine Peifer and Kristian Sonsteby will represent the Wallenpaupack Area High School InvenTeam. The team invented a generator that harnesses the movement of a boat dock to produce electricity. The device consists of modified gear motors acting as generators, attached to an arm that reciprocates when waves cause the dock to rise and fall. The team’s invention is on display at the Wallenpaupack Environmental Learning Center. The students recently presented their device to a national meeting of shoreline managers for hydroelectric facilities sponsored by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Kristian Sonsteby and Corine Peifer from Wallenpaupack Area High School InvenTeam at the White House Science FairKristian Sonsteby and Corine Peifer from Wallenpaupack Area High School InvenTeam at the White House Science Fair

“It is a remarkable honor and a well-deserved recognition for these students, their fellow InvenTeam members and educators, to be invited to the White House Science Fair,” said Leigh Estabrooks, the Lemelson-MIT Program’s invention education officer, who oversees all of the Lemelson-MIT Program’s Invention Education initiatives. “At an event of this magnitude, Jonathan, Fanta, Corine and Kristian can share their passion for inventing solutions to real-world problems. They inspire other youth to realize that they, too, can make a difference by applying science, technology, engineering and math to solve pressing problems in their communities and the world.”

Jonathan Hernandez
Jonathan is a junior at SOAR High School and a first generation college student, excelling in high school and community college. He will graduate in 2016 with high school diploma and two associate’s degrees – one in Arts and another in Sciences. Jonathan’s dream is to study biology at the University of California at Berkeley or the University of California at Los Angeles, and intends to become a general practitioner. Jonathan is the design lead on the SOAR InvenTeam.

Fanta Sinayoko
Fanta is a freshman at the University of California at Riverside. She is majoring in biology with the goal of attending medical school and becoming an obstetrician. Fanta is a first generation college student and was the patent lead on the SOAR InvenTeam.

Corine Peifer
Corine is a senior at Wallenpaupack Area High School and will graduate with honors in June 2015. She plans to attend college to major in the biological sciences with a career goal of becoming a medical doctor. She is in the Gifted Education Program and has concentrated her studies in advanced math and science courses. Corine’s primary role on the InvenTeam was the financial lead. She also assisted with communications and supported the technical aspects of the project. Corine has achieved success in the Ability One Engineering Design Challenge and is a state place-winner in the Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Kristian Sonsteby
Kristian is a senior at Wallenpaupack Area High School and will graduate with honors in June 2015. He plans to major in aerospace engineering in college. Kristian concentrated his high school studies in advanced math and science courses in the Gifted Education Program. Kristian has achieved success in the Ability One Engineering Design Challenge, Stock Market Game, and Entrepreneurship Challenge. His exceptional mechanical abilities were developed working at his family’s marina on Lake Wallenpaupack.

Corine Peifer and Kristian Sonsteby showing their wave tank to Bill Nye the Science GuyCorine Peifer and Kristian Sonsteby showing their wave tank to Bill Nye the Science Guy

Corine Peifer watches as President Barack Obama tests the InvenTeams wave powered electric generator. Credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/Getty ImagesCorine Peifer watches as President Barack Obama tests the InvenTeams wave powered electric generator. Credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/Getty Images