INTEGRATING STEM THROUGH INVENTING

Lemelsom-MIT InvenTeams® are groups of high school students, educators and mentors that invent technological solutions to real-world problems of their own choosing. The InvenTeam initiative offers an unparalleled opportunity for high school students to cultivate their creativity and experience invention. 

InvenTeam students rely on inquiry and hands-on problem solving as they integrate lessons from science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to develop invention prototypes. Interactive, self-directed learning coupled with STEM curricula are essential for experiencing invention.

Students learn to work in teams, while collaborating with intended users of their inventions. They partner with organizations in their communities to enrich their experiences. Most of all, students learn to move forward through challenges and celebrate "Eureka!" moments.

After the InvenTeam experience, inventive cultures often continue to prosper at schools through further development of InvenTeam prototypes or the pursuit of new invention projects. To date, eleven InvenTeams have patents for their InvenTeam projects, although, patents are not a requirement. 

Eligibility

Who is Eligible
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics educators at high schools and non-profit educational organizations. An educator and/or a school who has received an InvenTeam grant must wait three grant cycles before applying again. The application is a two-step process with an initial application and a final application. Only InvenTeam finalists chosen from the initial application are invited to apply to the final application which focuses on the invention project and requires student input. 
Funding
Every year, up to 15 teams nationwide receive up to $10,000 each. Funds may be allocated for research, materials, and learning experiences related to the project. Funds may not be used to purchase capital equipment or professional services (e.g.: intellectual property legal protection, engineering services). Educators who facilitate the project outside of the school day may allot up to $3,000 of an InvenTeam grant towards fellowships.
InvenTeam Size and Expecations
Optimal InvenTeam size is 10-15 high school youth. All teams are expected to hold a mid-grant technical review to demonstrate their progress and gather important feedback from beneficiaries and community stakeholders. Teams also must present and showcase a working prototype of their invention at EurekaFest in June of their grant year.

Selection Process and Key Dates

Applications are assessed on project planning, student organization, and potential for community partnerships and other types of collaboration. A strong application is sophisticated and prepared with student assistance. It demonstrates the educator's ability to facilitate a self-directed, hands-on learning project that spans an entire school year. The letter of support from the school’s administration should enthusiastically endorse the educator and the potential of an InvenTeam opportunity for the school. Teams of two or three educators are encouraged, but a lead educator must be designated for a team.

  • Educators are expected to document school and community support for year-long invention projects and the ability to identify and solve real-world problems with a team of students.
  • Educators selected as finalists receive access to training webinars, coaching, and technical support in order to develop a competitive final application.

Grantee Selection Process
A panel comprising inventors; educators; InvenTeam student alumni; and MIT faculty, staff, and alumni reviews the applications. Diversity is considered among school types, community demographics, and project themes. Up to 35 educators are selected as finalists from the initial applications.

Youth Involvement
Educators often begin the initial application with minimal youth participants. Youth input is encouraged for the initial application and required for the final application. Many educators recruit youth early to develop a stronger proposal for the initial application.

Invention Ideas
InvenTeam projects span many fields like assistive devices, environmental technologies, consumer goods, and wearable technology. Inventors are encouraged to identify important problems in their own communities. Local problems tend to highly motivate youth as they create technological solutions to improve the lives of others.
Review past InvenTeams and their invention projects for inspiration.

Key Dates

  • Initial application opens: October 27, 2020
  • Initial application deadline: April 2021
  • Finalist teams develop their final applications: Summer 2021
  • Final application deadline: September 2021
  • Up to 15 InvenTeams announced: October, 2021
  • Invention development by InvenTeam grantees: October 2021-June 2022
  • EurekaFest for InvenTeam grantees: mid-June 2022

How to Apply

Interested in applying? The initial application is available online each October and due at the beginning of April for grants to be awarded for the following academic year. The initial application for the 2021-2022 school year will open October 27, 2020. Full details of what the initial application includes and complete grant requirements, eligibility and key dates can be found in the information packet. Download the InvenTeam information packet now to learn more or pass on to a colleague.

Excite Awards

Interested in learning more about invention education? Educators can apply for a Lemelson-MIT Excite Award to receive free professional development. Educators will experience invention education, hear from expert educators and MIT faculty about facilitating invention education, and network with a cohort of the country's top educators.

Testimonial

“It’s no longer just crazy Mr. Schwartz in the shop trying to invent something. The grant we received provided acknowledgment to the school, district, and even county that what we were doing was worthwhile.”
- Jonathan Schwartz, Colfax High School (CA) InvenTeam teacher in 2012 and 2020

Current InvenTeams

InvenTeam Patents

Currently, 11 InvenTeams have been awarded patents for their invention projects. This is not a requirement for the grant, but an example of how the InvenTeam experience leaves a lasting impression on the students, teachers and community.

InvenTeam News