Americas High School recently earned a prestigious $10,000 Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam Grant, which was presented to the school in a special ceremony.
The Americas InvenTeam, which includes students involved in technology, engineering and robotics courses and programs at the school, is one of only 14 teams in the nation selected to receive the grant that will enable them to execute an innovative environmental project.
The team dedicated many hours of researching, planning and preparing for the proposal they developed to apply for the grant. They were tasked with building a technological invention to solve a problem of their choosing
“This team is highly motivated,” said Francisco Nolasco, a career and technology teacher at Americas High School. “They did everything they could to make this happen, it couldn’t have been achieved by one person alone.”
The Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam Grant was awarded to high school teams across the country in four categories: Health and Community, Environmental and Sustainability, and Food and Agriculture. The Americas team created their project for the Environmental and Sustainability category.
The students created a project to recycle polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles, which are made of a type of polyester, into a refined or shredded form to be used as clothing fabric. Their project then involves getting the shredded plastic to companies, which can recycle them into polyester fabric to create clothes to be distributed to the city’s homeless population.
“There is a lot of talented people on this team and we all have great ideas, but usually those great ideas don’t get to be developed because of lack of funding,” said Americas senior Gustavo Ramirez. “Thanks to this grant we’ll be able to push forward our ideas, which we are all very excited about.”
The students said the idea for this project originated from their awareness of climate change and their thought that as Earth’s inhabitants, people should work to find solutions to help the planet.
“This team being selected shows that they are passionate and that they have big hearts, which we always say inventors need to have big hearts,” said Tony Perry, Invention Education Coordinator with the Lemelson-MIT program. “Inventions won’t start cause you want to build a cool thing, but rather when you ask yourself how you can make a difference.”
Next, the students will be fundraising to showcase their project at EurekaFest, an invention celebration, in June at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. The event will allow the Americas students to showcase their final prototype and get feedback from inventors and professors and the broader science community.
“This is truly an amazing opportunity and we are all very excited,” Ramirez said. “Hopefully, we are able to make a positive contribution to society and the world.”
Click here to view photos of the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam Grant event, held October 24th.