Stockbridge InvenTeam gets $10,000 to help study oceanic habitats

STOCKBRIDGE, MI. (WILX) - In this edition of Schools Rule, WILX News 10 is featuring one high school class who is taking their talents across the world.

The Stockbridge InvenTeam is creating a device to help study the ocean floor and coral reef habitats. They are one of 14 schools across the country to receive a $10,000 grant from the Lemelson-MIT program.

Stockbridge's InvenTeam is a group of high school students who are working on a device that will monitor ocean habitats and coral reefs in the American Samoa. Recently, they were awarded a $10,000 Lemelson-MIT grant to help in their research.

"It's a grant for students and educators and mentors of up to $10,000 to develop an inventive solution to a technological problem," explained Robert Richards, the InvenTeam Mentor and the STEM Teacher at Stockbridge High School. "The project that we're working on right now is new, cutting-edge technology, a lander that's used to survey the bottom of the ocean."

That Lemelson-MIT grant is only awarded to 14 InvenTeams across the country. Stockbridge is using theirs to help researchers survey coral reefs and the ocean floor.

"It is really going to help in rural situations and with monitoring coral reefs and life in American Samoa," said Brooklyn Rochow, a sophomore and the InvenTeam's Technical Lead.

"I was very proud of our team because of how we performed and how we performed and how we put everything together," said Mayzie Wright, a sophomore and the Team Communications Lead. "We worked really hard on it so I was excited."

The American Samoa in the Samoan Islands, near Fiji, or roughly a 19-hour plane ride from Stockbridge.

"We got to talking with the researchers in the American Samoa and they gave us some ideas and pointers," explained Sylvia Whitt, a senior and the InvenTeam's Team Leader. "We just kind of took the idea and ran with it."

Typically, an oceanic lander can reach up to 13 feet high and cost thousands to produce and maintain. Stockbridge's two foot lander will help to collect data from coral reefs in the region.

"It can be deployed from a ship in any location, and it can go down to a depth and receive data, specifically video and different qualities about the water, things like pH and depth," said Jack Hammerberg, a freshman and an Engineer on the InvenTeam.

"I've always been very interested in technology and I'm doing something that could end up helping people," said Brianna Polenz, a freshman and a Programmer on the InvenTeam. "It's very exciting. I didn't think I'd be doing this at my age."

The impact the project has for researchers and ocean habitats is not lost on these high school students.

"By making them a tool that's easier for them to use and easier to do their job with, that's kind of our way of helping them the best we can," said Hythem Bedoyun, a sophomore and the Sustainability Lead. "It's a lot of work. You have to be focused and you have to be willing to work hard so you have to make sure it's something you really want to do and something you're going to be able to dedicate yourself to."

The InvenTeam is made up of engineers, coders, a business team, a film team. Every role is important and Mr. Richards says, they are all crucial to helping an ocean environment thousands of miles away from their classroom.

"It's just amazing to see what kids can do when you give them the resources to do it," said Mr. Richards.

"It makes me feel more confident in getting accepted to colleges because I've got these things on my resume, and I've got the Lemelson-MIT grant and InvenTeam," said Anastasia Schlaff, a senior and the Finance Lead for the InvenTeam.

In February 2020, the Stockbridge InvenTeam will present their project to M-I-T for a mid-grant review. They will also travel to Florida to test their lander in the ocean.

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