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The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

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Think big, dream big: Journey of Hydra comes to an end

Archer’s InvenTeam wrapped up the journey of their three-year invention, Hydra, this past summer. After facing a two-year delay, the team was able to travel to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and present their invention from June 12-14 as a Lemelson MIT alumni team at Eurekafest.

At Lemelson MIT Eurekafest, the team showcased their invention and connected with 11 other schools through scavenger hunts, picnics and presentations.

Hydra is a rooftop device that detects and extinguishes fire embers, which can potentially prevent wildfires. Throughout the project’s evolution, both middle and upper school students were involved in 3D printing, computer-aided design, programming and communication.

For the 2020-2021 school year, InvenTeam received a grant from Lemelson-MIT to build Hydra. However, due to COVID-19, the first year of development was remote, and scheduling changes led to difficulties in coordinating between middle and upper school students online. Many team members continued their work on the invention once in-person classes resumed.

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Over the following two years, InvenTeam maintained its partnership with MIT and the Lemelson Foundation, resulting in a special invitation to present their project in Boston as an alumni team. Senior Emi Marmol said this presentation demonstrated the collaboration students had to achieve the creation of Hydra.

Engineering and Design Coordinator Mike Carter said he was surprised when MIT professors commended the technical sophistication of Hydra’s design. Moreover, at Eurekafest, Archer received the prestigious Golden Beaver Award, which recognized the project as the best use of technology. Carter said this award was a significant highlight of the evening, even though Archer attended as an alumni team, which initially raised doubts about their eligibility.

“I was really excited that we got to go, [but] I felt a little bit of sadness for all of the students who had graduated already or otherwise couldn’t be part of the trip,” Carter said. “But [I was] so excited for the students who could make it and particularly for the students who had been with it through the whole process. It was a really nice capstone to their journey of innovation.”

Great ideas can come from anyone, and anyone can learn.

— Mike Carter, Engineering and Design Coordinator

Karen Garcia (’23), a recent graduate, was InvenTeam’s administrative leader for the 2022-2023 school year and worked with the team since 2019. Garcia said she was impressed by the team’s perseverance and was excited to have the opportunity to showcase all the progress they have made.

“It was such a dream come true because if you had told me in 2020 that we would actually be going to Boston, I would be so surprised because, at that time, I think everyone was thinking that COVID was a time that would go on forever, and there was no hope,” Garcia said. “A lot of our members have been with us since 2019-2020, so the fact that they all stuck around really meant a lot to me and to the team as well.”

In addition to the technical skills the team members learned throughout the trip, Marmol said she enjoyed having the chance to get to know student inventors from all grade levels.

“I think it was just great to make new friends and to get close to a great group of people,” Marmol said. “Even if people weren’t presenting, we would sit in the auditorium and tell them [the presenters] what they could work on and what we thought was great. I feel like everyone was really there for each other and really supporting each other.”

InvenTeam’s next step is to present at the XPrize Connect program next weekend. This program sets forth challenges for teams to invent innovative solutions to global issues, and InvenTeam’s objective is to expand its roster by enrolling additional members for new insights and solutions to a project they are planning.

Carter said students’ involvement in InvenTeam has not only equipped them with technical skills but has also taught them life skills they can carry on in their lives beyond this project.

“I really hope that it’s been a great time to inspire [students] to think big, dream big and to really recognize that everyone has something to contribute regardless of their technical background. Great ideas can come from anyone, and anyone can learn,” Carter said. “Most students build this confidence that they know that they can take what they have internally and what they’ve learned here and apply it anywhere in their life.”

This story was originally published on The Oracle on October 30, 2023.