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5/22/2016 - Team finalizes US Patent Application

The team has all members sign documents and a revised patent application is submitted.  The team awaits the USPTO issuance of a US patent number.



9/20/2015 - Team presents at Smithsonian Institute Washington D.C.

The team represented by Ford Grundberg USAF and Katelyn Sweeney MIT present at the Smithsonian American History Museum in Washington D.C.  They presented alongside Atlas inventor Nate Ball who also hosts PBS Design Squad. Timothy Winkle curator of firefighting devices for the Smithsonian presented historical tools of firefighting.  The focus of the panel was on inventions that save lives through rescue operations.  The students along with members of the Lemelson MIT community also attended workshops and celebrations related to the Lemelson Foundation's 20th Anniversary Celebration.  The celebration honored Jerry and Dolly Lemelson who founded the efforts to promote invention in the United States.



8/7/2014 - Team attends Underwater Dreams film premiere at Boston Museum of Science

The team demonstrated their system to attendees at the premiere of Underwater Dreams, a film about four Arizona high school students who faced off against MIT in an ROV competition and won.  The students showed off their work to many dignified guests.  Below are some photos of Olivia explaining the system to Woody Flowers, CEO Colin Angler of Irobot driving the robot, and the team itself.




6/20/2014 - Team assists at EurekaFest 2014

Team members Adam Azanow and Jimmy McLean visited EurekaFest to help out with various tasks.  They conducted TV interviews during the Showcase.  Adam and Jimmy asked current InvenTeam members questions on camera about their projects and experiences.  It was great to see the guys back on campus.  Many stories were retold and relived with regards to the Natick LMIT InvenTeam's adventures.



5/26-5/27/2014 - To the White House and Beyond!


Over the past 48 hours, the Natick High School InvenTeam has been represented in the White House; met Bill Nye the Science Guy, representatives from NASA, Raytheon, Autodesk, Destination Imagination, and countless other incredible organizations; been interviewed by almost every major news network in the nation; and met the President of the United States and let him drive the machine.





It’s been a pretty eventful two days, to say the least.


For those who did not already know, this week Olivia Van Amsterdam and Katelyn Sweeney represented the NHS InvenTeam in Washington DC at the 4th annual White House Science Fair. It was an incredible experience, and the team is truly honored that the SeaGiraffe was able to be presented in such an amazing environment. It was such a crazy experience, that this post requires two authors, so Katelyn and Olivia have shared their thoughts below:



Before I say anything, I have to extend a huge “thank you” to a few people. The first one is to the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams team. Without their continued support, our project would never have made it to this level, and it is a pleasure to work with them. It is so much fun to spend time with them, and we had such a blast in DC. They were instrumental in making this trip a success, and for that, a loving “thank you” goes out to them on behalf of the NHS InvenTeam! The next is to Mr. Scott for his guidance throughout this whole process. He invests so much time and energy into all of his students, and he has empowered us to create throughout this process. Finally, a thanks to all of the other team members. This goes without saying, but Olivia and I were only representatives of a much larger effort on the part of our team. It was their hard work and innovation that got us to the White House, so this victory needs to be shared amongst everyone.

This experience was absolutely surreal. It was an incredible honor to present among such brilliant young minds, and it is incredible to see how our project has grown since the Fall of 2012 when we first received the InvenTeams grant. Hearing President Obama mention our device specifically in his speech (found here) was the moment I became fully aware of the scope of what we had accomplished. We had the opportunity to present our device to brilliant scientific minds from across the country who wanted to support STEM education and , by extension, our pursuits. Being a part of such an intellectual and supportive environment was an incredible experience, and one that we will cherish forever.




After EurekaFest last spring at MIT, I never expected the team to make another public appearance again. Most of our InvenTeam went their respective ways to college, and with just a few members left doing patent work, I thought sadly that we would leave the wonderful robot we created to gather dust in a closet. Little did we know that Mr. Scott, as well as Leigh and Justin from Lemelson-MIT, was working hard to get the robot in tip-top shape! Mr. Scott was there from day one of the project, pushing the team to our limits and stressing the importance of pride in our work. He has never relented in his mission to see us through our journey to possible greatness -- and finally we have reached that level of greatness, which we were able to experience on Tuesday!

Without the experience we had last year working with Lemelson-MIT as a part of the whole InvenTeam process and Mr. Scott’s relentless work, we would never have ended up at the White House, able to showcase our team’s hard work and show the world what we had created. It was so much more than just Katelyn and myself; the entire team was there in spirit. Being able to meet and discuss our invention with President Obama and other highly-regarded individuals in the STEM field was an experience like no other, and I honestly wish everyone could have such an opportunity. Katelyn and I couldn’t believe that we were there, even after everything had happened and we were on a flight home! Thank you so much to everyone that was involved; we couldn’t have done it without you.




5/24/2014- System Tested and Gear Packed

Olivia tested out the system one last time today.  The gear was then packed up and loaded into a vehicle bound for DC.  The next time Olivia and Katelyn see the gear it will be at the White House.  Olivia expressed how excited she was.  Newton North's teacher Sue Brooks arrived and loaded up their project.  Kerri from LMIT loaded up LMIT banners that looked really nice.  It took a few tries to pack the gear appropriately but everyone involved had a smile on their face.




5/23/2014- White House Event Announced

The White House has released information about their upcoming White House Science Fair.  The Natick High School Lemelson MIT InvenTeam will be there!  Olivia Van Amsterdam and Katelyn Sweeney will represent the team by showcasing the team's invention to other student attendees, officials, and potentially the President.



5/23/2014- Turf Test

The system was tested on turf today in case of an event that needed it run on grass.  The system performed well, but as predicted slowed down a bit do the the thick grass.  All equipment was loaded up into Mr. Scott's car to be delivered to MIT for a future event.


5/22/2014- Software Analysis

Machine tune-ups continued today as Katelyn and Mr. Scott continued working on the machine with the help of team alumnus Adam Azanow. The three went through the software setup on the control board and created plans in case any part of the device experienced a failure at any point. The different electrical components were then tested to ensure functionality and connectivity. Now that each individual facet is insured, in the event of a failure the team is prepared to deal with problems accordingly in order to minimize downtime on the device.


5/21/2014- Machine Tune-Ups

Today Katelyn met with Mr. Scott to tune up the machine and create a failsafe sheet for future use. This process included setting up the machine and going through it from front to back and checking for any possible points of failure. Once these potential issues were located, they were either immediately remedied. If the problems were purely hypothetical, they were written down and potential solutions were devised. In doing this, they insured that the machine would be able to function under virtually any unexpected circumstance, ensuring its security for future use.




5/13/2014- Jason Speaks to Esteemed Group In Washington D.C.

Jason Geller visited Washington D.C. to help the Lemelson Foundation begin to establish problem based learning or invention based learning curriculum.  The goal of the work is to establish invention based learning in classrooms across the country.  Members of NSF, AAAS, USPTO, Media specialists, and various members of educational groups were in attendance.




5/13/2014- Jason Returns

Jason Geller stopped in today.  Talk was based on his first year at college and soon the talk shifted back to his InvenTeam experiences.  He went through the system and helped bundle it up for future use and presentations.  While testing the system he said, "I can't believe we actually built this".  The group is still very proud of their accomplishments as they should be.  Jason is preparing to speak at an AAAS conference in Washington DC about his InvenTeam experiences.



5/9/2014- Alum Return to Tune Up The Sea Giraffe


Adam Azanow and Jim McLean returned to NHS today to work along on the invention.  With all the use that the system has gone through, many parts needed to be tightened and realigned.  Overall the system has held up very well, but certainly needed some maintenance.  The session concluded with the system being powered up and tested to assure functionality.




4/25/2014- Photo Shoot at NHS


Leigh and Stephanie from LMIT visited today to film the team about their experience.  The footage will be used in the LMIT's new Overview Video.  Afterwards the team celebrated the filing of their patent application with ice cream.


4/23/2014- US Patent Application Filed


The team under the guidance and support of Jonathan Wainer, John Van Amsterdam and Leigh Estabrooks submitted their patent application.  The team will await feedback from the US Patent Office.


3/24/2014- Support from School Committee

For the past few months, the Natick High School InvenTeam has been working on developing a patent for the Ice Search and Recovery ROV. With the aid of Mr. Van Amsterdam and Mr. Wainer, this goal is coming closer and closer to reality, and on March 24th, the team took a big step in the right direction. Olivia Van Amsterdam and Katelyn Sweeney appeared on behalf of the team before the town School Committee to propose the development of an auxiliary advisory board. This group would advise the school committee and district administration on how income from the patent could be allocated in order to support STEM education in Natick. While the details of this establishment are still being sorted out, the School Committee voted unanimously in favor of the idea. The InvenTeam would like to thank Leigh Estabrooks for coming out to support the team's efforts, Mr. Wainer and Mr. Van Amsterdam for all of their help in the patent-writing process, and everyone in the community who has supported the team in their recent endeavors. The NHS InvenTeam is thrilled to be able to continue to pursue this project, and we are so excited to see how this develops in the future.


To read the Metrowest Daily News Article on the event, click here





3/18/ 2014 - Patent Meeting at NHS

Katleyn, Olivia, Alex, Alex, and Adam Azanow worked on assigning inventors to claims.  They used data from a form that was sent out to core members that let them brainstorm who was involved in the intellectual development of particular claims.  A time card from the team was also used which noted which students worked on which parts of the invention.  Mr. Van Amsterdam worked on developing a package to go out to each inventor to sign off the patent to NPSD.  Mr. Wainer worked on the draft document.  At this point he has taken control of the document to put into proper legal terminology.  The team is on call to answer any questions he may have.





3/5/ 2014 - Patent Meeting at NHS

Mr. Wainer and Mr. Van Amsterdam had students sit and create line drawings of the invention.  Students took photographs of the invention, then traced them on homemade tracing tables to develop very accurate line drawings.  These line drawings will be used in the invention description portion of the patent and referenced throughout as a visual depiction of components and overall device.  The meeting was productive and also was a bit of a reunion as college students Jacob Wainer and Adam Azanow attended to help out.  Mr. Van Amsterdam reviewed our letter of request to the School Committee that will establish an "InvenTeam Board of Directors".  This board will oversee any possible income as a result of the sale or licensing of the patent.



3/2/ 2014 - Sketching for the Final Patent

Mr. Scott and Katelyn took time to sit down while at a student event and began sketching out the requested views of the system by Mr. Wainer.  CAD renderings were traced in pencil.  No labels were applied as Mr. Wainer would like to match components to the final language of the application.


2/25/2014 - Patent Meeting at Morse Library


Katelyn and Alex Krasa took time to work through claims with Mr. Wainer.  They also went through the description language of the live document to update many changes that had occurred since the filing of the provisional patent.  Katelyn and Olivia had spent a lot of time over the February break working on the live document to edit the description and make notes to the group about areas that need attention during the revision of the draft.


2/12/2014 - Patent Meeting at Morse Library

Students utilized Leigh's worksheet and created claims, then went through and updated the description.  This was a great meeting as it was interesting to end up back in the library where the project had begun with the writing of our application to LMIT.  The students had solid discussion debating the claims, deciding which were the strongest claims and which would most likely be eliminated.  Those in attendance: Mr. Wainer, Mr. Van Amsterdam, Olvia, Katelyn, Alex P, Alex K, and Adam Azanow.



1/27/2014 - Patent Planning Meeting

During a half day at NHS, the students met with Mr. Wainer, Mr. Van Amsterdam and Leigh Estabrooks from LMIT.  The discussion was about the patent process and what needed to be accomplished before April 23rd.  April 23rd 2014 will be the filing date as the team had received their provisional patent 1 year prior.  Olivia, Katelyn, Alex and Alex were present to map out a timeline with our lawyers of important deadlines.  Leigh provided the team with a worksheet to help develop claims and descriptions.  She provided the team with the only patent ever issued to an InvenTeam.


Rough Timeline:

Claims and description work 2/24

Claims completed by 3/3

Drawings 3/3

Review draft 3/17

Assign inventors 3/17

School Committee 3/24

Send out declarations 4/1





1/15/2013- Preliminary Ice Testing

By Katelyn Sweeney

     After over a year of planning, presenting, building, and lab testing, we finally had the opportunity to test our device on the ice. On January 10th, the current InvenTeam members, as well as some returning alumni, took the SeaGiraffe onto frozen ice to test its maneuverability and functionality in real-world conditions. We would like to extend our greatest thanks to Ryan McGovern of the MA Fire Academy for coming out to observe and assist with the testing.



Overall, the test was highly successful. While there was some degree of (expected) slippage (as the SeaGiraffe has not been in use for a few months), we were able to successfully drive the vehicle out to a target hoop and deploy the submersible with accuracy and efficiency. After all of the hard work that went into the creation of this device, we are so glad to see it on the ice and functioning. Looking forward, we are hoping to see more successful field tests as we work to improve the SeaGiraffe's functionality. Thanks to all who have supported us!



12/18/2013- Team To Build Out Second System For Dive Team

     Throughout the process of building the Ice Search and Recovery system, the Dive Team regularly noted that they would like to own an all purpose ROV.  Recently as the advisor of the InvenTeam I came across a call for teachers to submit information to obtain an OpenROV via Donors Choose donation site.  The OpenROV matches the needs of the Dive Team, a simple observation class ROV. Today we had success as we met our $1,366.00 benchmark.  Thanks to all those who contributed, especially the Paul G. Allen Foundation who was the main donor of the project.



     The team will build out the OpenROV this school year and donate it to the Fire Department for use on dive training and operations. Stay tuned...


     Thanks donors and OpenROV for your generosity - Mr. Scott



12/14/2013- Katelyn Back To MIT

     When the Natick InvenTeam visited MIT last year for EurekaFest it became clear that one of our members fell in love with all things MIT.  Katelyn found out on 12/14 at 12:14 that she is going back to MIT, this time for her undergraduate degree.  The team is very happy for her and extremely proud.  Each member should be proud of their hard work and know that Katelyn will take her InvenTeam experience with her and remember each of you as she walks about the campus. -Mr. Scott




12/7/2013- Ford Patrolling The Galaxy From CA

     I recently heard from Ford, he is doing very well.  His experiences with LMIT InvenTeams helped land him an interesting position in the US Air Force.  Ford is learning how to manage satellites while at Vandenberg Air Force Base.  Now he actually gets to work with "space composites":)



11/13/2013- Massachusetts STEM Conference Visit


     On Wednesday, November 13, 2013, we showcased our machine at the Massachusetts STEM conference, located at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Alex Petrovsky and Olivia Van Amsterdam, both juniors, and Mr. Scott, our mentor, represented the Natick InvenTeam at the conference. We were unable to bring the machine along with us due to size constraints, but multiple CAD rendering of both the land and sea components were excellent examples as to what our InvenTeam has accomplished.




     As conference members entered and exited the floor space, many people became intrigued and asked questions about the machine. Both Alex and Olivia had the opportunity to speak with different visitors, many of which were from surrounding booths and conference members. All of those who stopped by asked questions and probed our brains in order to understand our vast knowledge of the machine we had built. Each conversation drew in more visitors interested in our invention, which allowed us to establish meaningful connections and gather valuable advice on what to accomplish moving forward.

     For a short break, both the Natick InvenTeam and Newton North InvenTeam representatives braved the elements and went out to lunch with Justin Lai, an Invention Education Associate for the Lemelson-InvenTeams. It was nothing but a good time at Five Guys Burgers and Fries, where the InvenTeam representatives got the chance to hang out and have fun after showcasing their inventions for a few hours.          

     After lunch, Alex and Olivia remained at their booth, answering a multitude of questions from conference members and visitors. Being given the chance to share our invention with MassSTEM conference-goers was an amazing opportunity. We were given advice from almost everyone who visited the booth, and were left with new ideas on how to move forward with our invention.

     Special thanks to the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam program, Leigh Estabrooks, Justin Lai, and the Massachusetts STEM Conference for allowing us to showcase our work once again. We are truly grateful for those who made this experience possible and offer nothing but thanks and gratitude to you.


10/07/2013- Mass. Fire Academy Visit

By Olivia Van Amsterdam and Katelyn Sweeney


     Today, Ryan McGovern of the Massachusetts Fire Academy stopped by our shop to check out our progress on the machine. We are so grateful that Mr. McGovern, as someone who works in the field can understand the purpose and importance of our invention, was willing to come meet with us and see our work! After a brief presentation on the design and build process, Mr. McGovern was given the opportunity to use the quick start guide to drive the machine around the shop. Even after spending the summer months in storage, the Sea Giraffe was still in perfect working order! Mr. McGovern quizzed the students in attendance about their knowledge of the machine, allowing for a full explanation of each individual part of the machine. We reviewed possible uses other than the one we focused on (dive search and rescue): driving into houses to test gas levels, placing the machine on a boat and driving out for circumstances where there is not ice for the machine to drive across, and many other potential uses and circumstances. Mr. McGovern was impressed with the versatility of the machine and was pleasantly surprised that high school students were already so involved in an engineering project of this size. 

     As we look into the future for new possibilities for our machine, we are considering applying for a patent this spring. This would allow us to work and change the machine so that it could be used in a real search and dive rescue one day. As for what the machine is actually capable of, we will continue to discover its many hidden talents. Special thanks to Ryan McGovern for coming to us and checking out the machine!




To view a video of the day's events, check out our Videos page!



6/22/2013 - EurekaFest Photo Journal: Day Four
By Katelyn Sweeney




As I am writing this, I am sitting in my temporary home in Baker House for the last time, reflecting on our last full day here at MIT for EurekaFest. It is hard to imagine that, after all we have put into this project, and after all the wonderful things that have happened here at MIT, we will be leaving tomorrow, and it will be over. Well, for now. Mr. Scott, myself, and a few of the other team members had a discussion with some of the Excite teachers, who will be applying for an InvenTeam grant this fall. One of them asked us if, now that the showcase is over, we felt done with the project. None of us thought so. As I sit here in Baker for the last time (for now), I am thinking about how much more we still have to do, and where we can take this project; it's been a long road, and of course we need some rest, but EurekaFest was only a new beginning-- a chance to receive inspiration and feedback regarding our project, and a means of moving forward from here on out. So keep in mind that this is NOT a farewell post. This is simply a recap of our last day here at MIT and all of the awesome opportunities it brought with it. That said, here it is: your final set of daily EurekaFest photos!


Today's big event, which will be the main topic of this post, was a design challenge for all of the InvenTeam and MITES students at EurekaFest. This year, our challenge was to build a structure that would fly upwards when placed over a pair of large fans. Sounds simple, right? Not quite. We were given limited time, materials, and a whole new team that we have never really worked with before. We also had to ensure that our device would reach a 40' height minimum while carrying a bagful of rubber ducks. The challenge was called "Duck and Hover," which I found quite clever. We were given two hours in the Walker Memorial building in McDermott court to build our structures. Below are some shots of the process.





Once we were done building, we loaded our apparatuses onto buses and headed over to the Museum of Science to showcase and compete our inventions. Museum visitors packed the area to watch, and it was a ton of fun to see all of the different designs and how they worked.




The design challenge consumed most of the day, so I do not have much else to post. We concluded the day by watching the Bruins game in the student center, then by running off the disappointment of their loss with a game of midnight frisbee on the green. A great conclusion to a fantastic day.


Before I close this last post (for now), I want to take a minute to recognize the four senior interns we had working on this project. These four put an insane amount of work into making our machine the best it could be, about 440 hours apiece between April and June, when their internships ran. Without their hard work we would not have made it this far. I could go on four hours about the things they have done for this project, but, in my opinion, the best thing about them was the way they shaped the team dynamic. They really stepped up as leaders in our group and made this entire process a truly enjoyable experience. They have stuck with us through thick and thin, and as they move on to the next chapters in their lives, we thank them for their dedication to the project and we wish them all the very best with all that they do in the future. 











Left to right: Ford Grundberg, Jim McLean, Mr. Scott, Jason Geller, Nick Thorsen.



6/21/2013 - EurekaFest Photo Journal: Day Three
By Katelyn Sweeney and Adam Azanow




Honestly, it is hard for me to actually believe that today happened. After over a year of working towards our goal, the showcase was finally here, and at last we had the chance to display all of our hard work. That was one of the most surreal parts of this trip, however, today was filled with other amazing experiences as well, so before I get to the showcase, let me explain all of the other awesome experiences we had today.


Right after another great breakfast in Maseeh Hall (I'm sorry, I forgot to take pictures again! Tomorrow, I promise!!), we headed over to the Jerome Lemelson center to tour the biomechatronics and media laboratories. We got to see all of their amazing work on a variety of subjects, ranging from prosthetics and orthotics to the best designs for urban cars. The tour was absolutely wonderful, and we are so thankful to everyone at the Jerome Lemelson Center and the Lemelson-MIT program who arranged the tour and made our experience so great.




After the tour of the Lemelson Center, we branched off into different groups to tour different areas of the MIT campus. I myself went with a few others to tour the model train area, so that is what I have photos of. Another group got to tour the Wind Tunnel and aerodynamics lab, so I will try to get pictures from one of them. In the meantime, here are some shots of us in the train area.




Later on, we attended the EurekaFest Awards Ceremony and had the chance to hear from a number of speakers as they received awards or introduced award winners. There were so many powerful and memorable speakers that night, including Dr. Ian Waitz, Dean of MIT's Engineering School; Dr. Evelyn Hu, a professor of applied physics and electrical engineering at Harvard; Dr. Elizabeth Molyneux, a doctor at the hospital in Malawi which Drs. Richards-Kortum and Oden work with (for more on that, see the post from Day Two); and Dr. Carol Dahl, the executive director of the Lemelson Foundation; and Dr. Angela Belcher, winner of the $500,000 Lemelson -MIT prize and developer of a battery system that runs off of viruses (I am still in awe about how she and her lab did this. It is truly unbelievable. For more information, please click here). I wish I could go into detail about each of these powerful and memorable speakers, but to do so, I would have to write a novel! In short, each person had a distinct and applicable message, and we really enjoyed hearing what they had to say!




And then, the moment we've all been waiting for, the EurekaFest showcase. This was the demonstration opportunity that we have been preparing for for over a year. All of the hard work, frustration, trials, and "Eureka" moments, we finally had the chance to share our experiences with the public. It was an incredible, nearly surreal experience. Each person on our team had the chance to speak with different visitors, including MIT faculty, Lemelson-MIT prize winners, other InvenTeams, and a number of other visitors interested in our invention. I could try to put the experience into words, but there is no way that I could ever do it justice. It was truly an unbelievable opportunity to share our work, and we cannot thank our sponsors, parents, teammates, and especially the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam program enough for all they did to make this possible.




Again, we cannot iterate our gratitude enough to all of the people who have made this whole experience possible. As I said earlier, the description escapes my writing capacities, and if I were to try to put the surreality of it all into words, I could never cover all of the meaningful conversations we had, profound connections we made, and the valuable advice we received. We are truly grateful for all of the help we received along the way, and this entire process would not have been possible without the aid of all of everyone who supported us. Thank you all!


6/20/2013 - EurekaFest Photo Journal: Day Two
By Katelyn Sweeney



Today we had another great day at EurekaFest! The day began with breakfast in the beautiful Maseeh Hall (pictured above, middle), and I wish I had pictures from the inside, but we were too busy enjoying the food to bother with the cameras. I will try for tomorrow, though, because it is a gorgeous building. After that we heard a keynote address from Kavita Shukla, inventor of FreshPaper and founder of the company Fenugreen (click here for more info. It's pretty awesome!). She told us about her idea for FreshPaper, which she came up with for a middle school science project, and how she brought it from an idea to a reality. It was very inspirational to hear of her struggles and successes, and, in many ways, her journey seemed analogous to our own. We also heard from Jane Connor and Jane Kokernak on effective communication skills. Their speeches were very interactive and engaging, and we all took away some valuable communication tips for tomorrow night! Dawn Wendell, the Assistant Director of Admissions for MIT, also spoke to us about communicating our ideas. She had some great insight on becoming "more than a number" and accentuating our personal strengths in speaking. With all of these amazing lectures, I was sure to take copious notes to save for later :)




We also had the chance to hear from the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize winners and some of the other InvenTeams from around the country. It would take an entire blog entry (maybe two) to cover all of their amazing innovations, so the bottom line is that each invention was unique and inspiring, and we are so excited to see where our peers choose to take them next. We also got to meet the Student Prize winners and finalists afterwards during their exhibition, which was an awesome opportunity to chat with them one-on-one about their experiences. Later that night, we heard from Dr. Rebecca Richards-Kortum and Dr. Maria Oden, the $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation winners, about their advancement in medical technology for undeveloped nations. More on their inventions can be found here. I urge you to check it out, they have done some really amazing things. I actually had the chance to speak with Dr. Richards-Kortum after the event, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't freaking out and fangirling on the inside a little bit. For all of their amazing accomplishments, both she and Dr. Oden were so down-to-earth and willing to share their experience and advice. They are even donating their $100,000 prize to help renovate the neonatal ward at a hospital in Malawi. Their work is truly incredible, and I was inspired by their intelligence, compassion, and by how they have used engineering to change the face of healthcare in the developing world.



Jim McLean and Ford Grundberg with Nikolai Begg,          The team watches intently as Eric Grimson, MIT's          Me getting some great invention advice from the wonderful

winner of the $30,000 student prize.                                chancellor, presents                                                      Dr. Rebecca Richards-Kortum


Among all of the excitement of the day, we also had the chance to take a few strolls around campus in our free time. As I mentioned in the last photo journal, the city campus is absolutely gorgeous! But, as they say, "a picture is worth a thousand words," so I'll just let you look below and see for yourself.




And of course, here is today's obligatory team photo of the day (taken on the steps near McDermott court)


Top Left: Nick Thorsen; Top Right: Alex Petrovsky

Seated (L to R): Jason Geller, Otto Magee, Ford Grundberg, Jake Wainer, Olivia Van Amsterdam, Katelyn Sweeney, Chris Williamson, Adam Azanow, Jim McLean


6/19/2013 - EurekaFest Photo Journal: Day One
By Katelyn Sweeney



We did it! After dedicating over a year's worth of work to this project, we are finally on the MIT campus for the home stretch: EurekaFest! It is surreal to think that we are actually here, surrounded by an amazing assemblage of innovators and thinkers from across the nation, and we are honored to be able to learn and present here this week. As unreal as it may seem, EurekaFest is actually happening, and I have the photos to prove it. Each day, I will be updating the blog with new photos from our adventures in Cambridge and walking you through the day's events. So, that said, here is your daily dose of EurekaFest goodness!




We arrived at MIT in the early afternoon, so of course the first thing we had to do after checking in was tour the amazing campus! We loved seeing the incredible research and study facilities, and art pieces are installed all across the campus. We had to get a picture with this awesome piece, Jaume Plensa's "The Alchemist," which was installed at MIT in 2010 in honor of the school's 150th anniversary. Seen below is another art piece, Mark Di Suvero's Aesop's Fables II, which served as the perfect unique backdrop for a team photo!


Top row (L to R): Chris Williamson, Otto Magee, Ford Grundberg, Jim McLean, Jason Geller, Jake Wainer

Bottom Row (Standing, L to R): Olivia Van Amsterdam, Alex Petrovsky, Katelyn Sweeney, Adam Azanow, Nick Thorsen


And of course, tonight being game four of the Stanley Cup, and us being from the Boston area (go Bruins!) we all had to gather around and watch the game. Sadly, it was a loss for our dear Bruins, but we hope to see some redemption in game 5 this Saturday!




After the opening night barbeque, there was a design challenge for all of the InvenTeam students from across the country. We were randomly assigned to groups and given the task of building a structure as tall as possible with only balloons (which seemed overly inclined to pop) and some packing tape. Our very own Alex Petrovsky was a member of the winning team, with a structure that towered at eleven feet tall! Not only was it a fun activity, it was a great chance to meet some other inventors from around the US. I was fortunate enough to be assigned to a group with the amazing Eduardo Torrealba, winner of the $30,000 student prize for his development of Plant Link, a device that monitors the moisture needs of plants and administers water using smart valves. It is a really cool project and, if you haven't already, I urge you to check out some of his work here.



Katelyn Sweeney and Nick Thorsen with their teams' balloon structures, as well as the gruesome aftermath of the project (WARNING: Many balloons were harmed in the making of these structures)


I think that's all for tonight. Overall, an amazing first day at EurekaFest, and we could not be happier to be here! We have a big day of tours and workshops tomorrow, so be on the lookout for another photo journal entry coming soon!


6/14/2013 - June Preparation For EurekaFest
By Doug Scott - Advisor



     The students are working their fingers to the bone to prepare for EurekaFest, so I thought this would be a good time for me to reflect on what they are up to and what they have accomplished.  The students are going through a very long punch list of items to fine tune before heading out to EurekaFest next Wednesday.  Yesterday the students took all of the items to be displayed and put together a mock up of their Showcase booth in the lobby of our school.  This proved to be more of a challenge than they had thought.  Tough decisions had to be made with regards to which items could be used and which had to go based on limited space provided at Stata Center, where EurekaFest is held.  After two hours the students assembled their final draft of a layout and the team seemed very confident and positive that they will have an attractive and well visited booth at the Showcase.  While they were doing all of this, Pete Mundy from the local access sports show came in and interviewed the students for an upcoming broadcast about their work.


     The students have poured themselves into this project.  Not only have they built the robotic system which included two robots, but have also created rich documentation.


The students created:

  • MIT's required 20 page Final Report
  • Obtained a provisional US patent
  • Owner's manual complete with warranty information
  • Quick start guide
  • FAQ document


     I recently totaled the hours on task by our four interns alone.  They each worked ~440 hours between April and June, totaling ~1760 hours between the four of them.



5/31/2013- May Progress

By Olivia Van Amsterdam



     Time is nearly up as we continue on the road towards EurekaFest. The build has become much more intense, and we are after school almost every day of the week in order to finish on time for the big finish! The physical build of the machine has progressed to the point of completion, except for some minor touch-ups from recommendations. 


     The land component has been upgraded with its flotation! Calculations of the exact wieght that each square inch could support were made, and we drew diagrams planning where each block of foam would go. We took pieces of closed-cell polystyrene foam, painted them red, and strapped them to the frame of the machine. The back of the machine needed extra flotation, because the electronics box is one of our more valuable components on the land machine. Therefore, if the machine falls through the ice into the water, it will be able to float and the main components will not be destroyed. The covering that will surround the operator was finalized, and tested by members of the Advanced Sea Robotics class. Each member had a turn at going beneath the tarp and setting up the wireless connection between the laptop and machine. After realizing that the printed directions were missing key instructions, we removed them from the laptop case and began with a fresh start. One step forward, two steps back!


     We also began the reinvention of the battery pack for the ROV. The initial prototype was too bulky for the frame, and so a smaller battery pack was needed. Our team disassembled the old "pill" (i.e. the battery pack) and began to see how we could use the same components but make the container smaller. This proved difficult, as the new pill lacked the balance that the old pill had. We are still looking for the perfect balance between the pocket of air within the pill and the weight of the pill itself.


     As we move towards the final due date, we are pushing to finalize each aspect of the machine, so that we can be in our best shape for EurekaFest. Each team member is dedicated and ready to make this final transition, and we are all excited for our last days with this machine. EurekaFest, here we come!


5/1/2013- Testing in Dug Pond
By Katelyn Sweeney



     Today the entire system was brought out onto the dock at Dug Pond in Natick, MA.  This is right outside of our shop, so it was exciting to get the machine out and running.  Several deployments were made and problems were noted.  The tether needs work with regards to buoyancy.  The ROV also needs some trimming out.  The operator experienced some trouble seeing the screen because the tarp was flapping around in the breeze and the sun was washing out the computer screen.  Overall it was a fantastic experience the system works!





4/26/2013- Northeast Showcase

By Katelyn Sweeney


     This past Wednesday, we were honored to host to the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeamTM Northeast Showcase! All four teams from Massachusetts (Beaver Country Day, Sturgis Charter, Newton North, and ourselves) attended to showcase our work, and many community members as well as the wonderful group from the Lemelson-MIT program came to enjoy the event. A huge "thank you" has to go out to the Lemelson-MIT coordinators for organizing such a wonderful outreach event. They have been working so hard as we get closer to EurekaFest, and we are so thankful for all of the time and energy they have poured out to make community events like this successful across the country. It was an awesome opportunity to show off all of our hard work up to this point and to see all of the other amazing projects from our region. All of the late nights, frustrating problems, endless brainstorming, and long build sessions payed off as we were able to display our hard work to the public! It was an amazing opportunity to reach out to our fellow young inventors as well as the community.  


     Wednesday's event was a great chance for us to network with some great minds in invention. Not only were we able to witness firsthand the amazing work of some of our peers, we also gained their valuable insight about our project. The other Massachusetts teams were incredible, and I urge you to check out their amazing projects. I was blown away, not only by their creativity and innovation, but by their friendliness and willingness to help out as well, and I cannot wait to see how they grow between now and EurekaFest in June. Many other guests at the events also had some really helpful advice, and moving forward we are seeking to use some of it to make our device more efficient. As we continue to strive towards our presentation at EurekaFest, the feedback and experience we have gained from this event will help us improve our invention in order to make it as functional and efficient as possible.


     While the event was a great chance for us to grow as a team, it was also a wonderful opportunity for us to reach out to our community and foster growing support of other local innovations. Our whole goal is based on helping use invention to make our community safer, and by sharing our findings, we hope that everyone can realize that science is changing the world! Whether it is an InvenTeam, a researcher, a professional, or someone who just wants to make a difference, innovation can change lives for the better, and community support and outreach is critical in fostering those efforts. I want to pose this question to you: what can you do to help your local innovators? How can you use your talents, whether they be based in science or another field, to make your community a safer place? While we were honored to be the hosts of amazing scientific minds who are giving us instrumental input, we were also honored to be the hosts of an invested community. A community that is choosing to come together to make a difference by supporting us and other InvenTeams beside us. EurekaFest is right around the corner, and, as it nears, we are not only working harder than ever, but we are more thankful than ever to have such an amazing community and support system that is helping to make a difference in our project and inspires us to work as hard as we can to make a difference.


4/2/2013- March Madness!

By Katelyn Sweeney


With only a couple months left before EurekaFest, the NHS InvenTeam is in full-on build mode trying to perfect our project. The conceptual design phase of the project is essentially finished as we move ahead trying to transform our written designs into tangible products. Both the main land and sea machines have been moving ahead at a fairly constant pace, and details are being added to make them as efficient and effective as possible. Overall, the project is moving at a healthy pace, and we hope that, as we draw closer to our regional presentation in April and EurekaFest in June, we will be able to implement innovative solutions to make our machine as effective as possible.


 Despite the significant March progress on many aspects of our build, our team did run into one significant (and frustrating) problem: the boom/pulley system. Effectively lowering the sea bot into the water and then retrieving it proved to be very conceptually difficult. Maintaining tension on the tether, keeping it attached to whatever system we devise, and preventing the wire from twisting too many times are only a few of the issues to be considered in the design. After many different attempts at a successful design, we finally shied away from the traditional one-ended pulley system towards a different concept. Now the design features two wheels, one at the top, one at the bottom. The lower wheel is motorized to drive the system, and a belt connects the two, maintaining adequate tension. This design also lowers the

number of times that the tether needs to be wound and unwound as it feeds out, lessening the twist damage on the cable. While the system is still in its initial build phases, it is a promising concept, and we plan to continue pursuing it in order to better our design.


March has its fair share of successes and failures, but each result pushes us closer and closer to the end result. As we learn more about what needs to be fixed in terms of our design, we continue to design new solutions that help make our machine as effective as possible for its intended field use. As we move into April, we will continue to build and adapt our machine to meet these new needs and solve any problems that come our way, both present and future.


The team presents their progress at a local event                             The new boom design                                                                                A team build session



3/6/2013- Invention Inspiration

By Katelyn Sweeney


This Tuesday, a few members of the NHS InvenTeam headed up to MIT to visit the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize Showcase. This event showcased different inventions that applicants for the Lemelson-MIT $30,000 prize had devised, and the trip served to be a great inspiration to many of our members. The winner, Nikolai Begg, invented a surgical device to aid with puncture access surgeries that removes the risk of human error and reduces many of the dangers of these procedures. The trip itself served the purpose stated by the Lemelson-MIT program: "Celebrating innovation, inspiring youth." For the members in attendance, the trip was great inspiration to keep moving along with our project. As we continue to work on our device, it can sometimes become difficult to understand the end-result of our efforts, and to see such brilliant minds in action and what their innovation has achieved is an inspiration for us to continue working towards our goal. The experience truly was remarkable, and as we keep developing our project, hopefully we can keep in mind what our invention's real-world applications are thanks to the inspiration from other brilliant thinkers like Begg.



2/28/2013- February Progress 

By Katelyn Sweeney


February marked significant build progress for the Natick High School InvenTeamTM. After all of the planning for the land machine, we began the build on the main frame at the beginning of the month. The base has been built, and the team is building upwards, adding accessories and essential components from there. In order to allow for mobility of the land machine, we removed treads from an old snowblower and incorporated them onto the frame of the land machine. By applying the technology from the snowblower, these treads will allow the land bot to cross over snow and ice more efficiently and cost-effectively. We also continued working on the submersible component as well. The frame is essentially completed and we have begun to add the cameras, lights, and motors as we work towards getting it to full functionality. Team members are also working on consolidating control of the machines with a 2CAN controller and a switch. By doing so, the need forB a shore-to-vehicle wired connection was eliminated, and the machine has essentially become wireless in that regard. This will prevent the fire department from having to deal with extra lines freezing to the ice, making the device more manageable. As we move into March, the NHS InvenTeamTM  is continually working towards making our project more efficient and applicable for the dive team in both our conceptual and physical designs.



February Progress

To view the video report for the month of February, please visit our Videos page


1/10/2013- New Year, New Designs!

By Katelyn Sweeney


With all of the work that went into planning in 2012, it's hard to believe that 2013 is finally here and the basic designs we created are finally being brought into reality. Yet even with all of the hard work that the InvenTeamTM has done so far, it feels like the weeks have just flown by, and what better way to ring in the new year than with a new design! Well, it's not a completely new concept, more of a series of improvements on the old ROV design. Using the ideas we compiled from the Army Labs (see previous post) as well as our other mentors, we have shifted from a rectangular frame to a more sphere-like design for the submersible. This new design will make deployment and retrieval significantly easier while providing more room on the robot for accessories (the sonar system, cameras, lights, etc...). That said, this concept is new to us. We really have never built or experienced any design like this before, so in the future, we will have to solve more problems as we test the machine in order to have it completely ready for use in the field. However, it provides a fresh and innovative solution to many of our past problems, and hopefully, as we continue the build, it will prove to be a design that will be applicable to the divers' needs.



Building out the new frame design




12/20/2012- 'Tis the Season to be Building

By Katelyn Sweeney


Happy December! With 2013 just around the corner, we have been working harder than ever to nail down our design and begin the build. With our project, it is evident that finishing a basic prototype by February is critical in order to test it on the ice. With that in mind, December has been a busy month for concept design. For instance, deployment has been a big conceptual issue. Our machine not only has to be able to safely and accurately deposit an ROV into the ice, it has to be able to retrieve it as well. Concerns about counterweight, accuracy, and accidentally breaking through the ice have been prevalent (and annoying) concerns throughout this whole process. However, after debating different designs, we came up with a possible design we will begin to prototype in the near future.


This month we also visited the engineers at the Natick Army Labs to help us think critically about our current ideas and create possible new ones. During the first session, we presented our project idea and designs, then opened up the session to questions and comments. What happened next was a two-hour discussion about ideas and concepts where we received some amazing advice about our build. It really allowed us to see our work from a different perspective, think about different problems, and get us out of any one-track mindsets about our build. The next week we visited again and toured their fabrication lab. They showed us the different tools and materials they use and advised us as to which would be best for our project. Again, we received invaluable advice from the Labs, and we are so thankful to have such helpful mentors.


Next month we hope to use our prototypes so far and new knowledge about materials and design to begin building out prototypes for our machine in order to be ready for testing later in 2013.



Photo Credit: Alexandra Foran, NSRDEC Public Affairs.               Photo Credit: Amy Castellano, NSRDEC.       Photo Credit: Amy Castellano, NSRDEC.


To see our progress from the month of November, click here

To see progress from December, click here


11/20/2012- Prototype Completed!

By Katelyn Sweeney


After months of planning and problem-solving, the prototype for final product is complete! Today is when we get to make a list of the actual parts and their prices in order to begin building the final product. There is still a lot to be done, but at this point, progress is moving nicely. For now, we have decided on solutions to the problems listed on the November 7th entry, and now we just have to shop for the parts and put them together.


The prototype consists of a body with "treads" and a central mount for the control system. Mounted in front of that is the winch/ramp deployment system for the mini ROV. The ROV is deployed as the ramp goes down and the winch lets the submersible device out slowly. While this is only a miniature Lego version, it accurately portrays the concepts we hope to implement in the actual device, and hopefully, we will use it as a model for the larger machine. While there are still many problems we have to overcome moving forward, the progress so far has moved along nicely, and hopefully, the upcoming builds will produce an effective result.

The final prototype!



11/15/2012 - Progress Update


Today, the Natick High InvenTeam is finishing the cost spreadsheet to find out what we need to keep and remove from our plans in order to stay within our budget. We also are beginning to produce our Lego model ROV, and test our method of deployment to see some of the trouble we might face with the full scale model. We came to the unfortunate conclusion that we are currently around $2000 over budget. Our Lego model is near completion.



11/7/2012- Progress So Far!


We are about a month into the project, and the Natick High InvenTeam has been making great progress. Up to this point, the main purpose of meetings has been to plan and prototype different ideas. Over the summer, we also discussed possible obstacles with search and rescue divers in order to come up with feasible solutions. Below are some of the problems we discussed and their respective solutions:


Low visibility on dives (murky water, silt, etc...)
Lighting system for camera, use sonar for "vision"
Robot needs to be able to cross the ice independently (a diver cannot carry it)
Land machine with tread system deploys smaller ROV from ramp system
Staying with the target once located
Robotic arm that can be manipulated to latch on to target. Diver can follow tether to target
Making the deployment accurate; ensuring that the ROV makes it successfully through entry point
Ramp system for deployment with a downward facing camera, mounted on the land machine to accurately deploy land robot.


The design itself faces many obstacles. Search and rescue diving is inherently dangerous, and in order to ensure the safety of the diver as well as the best survival rate for the victim, the machine needs to be built with precision, taking into account every possible problem.


So far, we have developed most of the conceptual design, and we have begun to build out basic prototypes for the machines. For details on the build and the ideas being developed, check out our Activity Tracking page! Hopefully, now that we have narrowed down the concepts and looked into specific parts of the machine, we will be able to begin the actual build!


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