Greenon High School invention team granted patent for environmental system

Greenon High School’s InvenTeam are officially inventors on a United States Patent for an environmental system they developed, the district announced in a release.

The team was granted a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for their invention of an animal-friendly net system to reduce manmade debris in local waterways. It will allow for the free flow of water while catching and retaining debris.

“From start to finish, the work of the students and teachers on the Greenon InvenTeam has highlighted the impact of what can happen when students are engaged and excited about their learning,” Superintendent Darrin Knapke said. “As teenagers, these Greenon Knights are already inventors on a patent, and that’s just the start of incredible things to come for these students.”

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The team developed a net system that can be used to cover the end of the drain pipes that dump storm drain water, along with other items, directly into local waterways. They used various materials, forms of net construction and anchoring systems to create a durable net system. They also developed a battery-powered device that can measure the amount of tension, then remotely alert the team once the net is full.

This system was developed with coaching and mentoring that also included a grant from the Lemelson-MIT (LMIT) Program. After a successful prototype, the LMIT staff connected them with Microsoft’s MakeWhatsNext Patent Program, which offers female inventors and their teams pro bono legal support to patent their inventions.

With the help of the MakesWhatsNext Patent Program, the U.S. Patent Office issued US Patent 11,230,836 on Jan. 25 to the team of 14 student inventors, including 12 female students, and five educators, the release stated. A number of female students on the team are interested in pursuing STEM careers, and several of them are already attending college and majoring in STEM-related fields.

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“Being named on a patent is a significant achievement for these young inventors and I am glad our program contributed to making this possible,” Tom Wong, Microsoft Patent Attorney and volunteer of the MakeWhatsNext Patent Program, said. “It is also gratifying to see that several of these young women inventors decided to pursue a college degree in a STEM field after graduating from high school.”

The team includes Braelynn Cameron, Kacie Sizer, Makenzie Gossett, Emma Bennett, Alex Tighe, Lacy Herdman, Kylie Mader, Rhia Thomas, Masonn Hayslip, Tyler Jenkins, Madison North, Lily Hopkins, Alexa Cunningham and Arizona Henderson. They are led by teachers Kyle Bandy, Tina Harris, Tom Jenkins, Jim Shaner and Jennifer Tropp.

Jenkins said having an opportunity in high school to participate in the InvenTeam program is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

“Being able to go beyond that to learn about the patent process, work with local and global partners in the development of the product, and now receive a U.S. patent is an experience that enriched the education of not just our team, but all the students, staff, and community members at Greenon who have supported us on this journey,” he said.

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