Greenon High School invention team patent pending for environmental prototype

Greenon High School’s InvenTeam. CONTRIBUTED
Greenon High School’s InvenTeam. CONTRIBUTED

Greenon High School’s InvenTeam has a patent pending with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for for an environmental prototype they developed, according to a release from the school.

The team applied for a patent for their animal-friendly prototype of a net system to address the issue of manmade debris in waterways. It would allow for the free flow of water while catching and retaining debris.

“Being selected for the InvenTeam grant and now having the opportunity to pursue a patent is an example of the kind of real-world and innovative learning experiences our STEM program at Greenon Schools offers,” said Superintendent Darrin Knapke. “The passion this team had for addressing this environmental issue facing our local community has made it possible for their work to benefit not only their hometown, but possibly communities across the world as they now pursue the U.S. patent.”

InvenTeams are comprised of students and teachers and pursue a year-long invention project that involved creative thinking and problem-solving.

Greenon’s team was awarded a $9,200 grant from the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to explore options to safely reduce the amount of man-made debris that exists within the Mad River and it’s tributaries, the release stated.

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The team includes 14 students: Braelynn Cameron, Kacie Sizer, Makenzie Gossett, Emma Bennett, Alex Tighe, Lacey Herdman, Kylie Mader, Rhia Thomas, Masonn Hayslip, Tyler Jenkins, Madison North, Lily Hopkins, Alexa Cunningham and Arizona Henderson. They are led by five teachers: Kyle Bandy, Tina Harris, Tom Jenkins, Jim Shaner and Jennifer Tropp.

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, the release stated. 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.

“While our team is hopeful that we will obtain a patent for our idea, we are still focusing on our primary objective which is to make a difference in our community,” said Greenon STEM Teacher Tom Jenkins. “The team is shaking off the dust from our COVID hiatus, added two new team members, and plans to resume construction and field testing of their prototype over the spring and the summer of this year.”

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The team had the opportunity to learn about patent law from Dayton Patent Attorney Sam Ham, and after learning about prohibitive costs, the Lemelson-MIT Program connected the team with patent attorneys at Microsoft, the release stated. The 14 students then met and discussed the project with the #MakeWhatsNextProgram, who offered pro bono support to help the team file for the patent.

“The students of the Greenon InvenTeam showed tremendous enthusiasm and inventive spirit throughout the patent process. They were able to describe their invention with clarity and confidence. It was a pleasure working with such talented young ladies and young men,” said Tom Wong, Assistant General Counsel at Microsoft who drafted the patent application for the team.

Hays Fabricating and Enon-based company Seepex Inc. helped support and guide the team through the development of the prototype.

The team is also looking for a business partner to support their project by providing access to an individual sewing machine to stitch a vital piece of the prototype together. For more information, contact Jenkins at tjenkins@greenonschools.org.

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