Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fayette County's Whitewater High School Student Inventors Win $10,000 MIT Grant

A group of Georgia high school students might have the solution to end the world’s shortage of clean drinking water. So impressed with their idea was the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that it awarded them a $10,000 grant to develop a prototype.

Five students who make up the InvenTeam at Whitewater High in Fayette County are one of only 16 teams throughout the US and Canada to receive a Lemelson-MIT grant for the 2008-2009 school year. The students are Kavita Singh, Chris Sandwich, Jacob Cotton, Andrew Barth and Hendri deBeer.

InvenTeams are composed of high school students, teachers and mentors who collaboratively identify a problem that they want to solve, research the problem and then develop a prototype invention as an in-class or extracurricular project.

The Whitewater team decided to create a combination dehydrator and condenser that will preserve food while purifying the water that results from the dehydration process.

This team is the first in Fayette County to win a grant. InvenTeam is expected to release a final list of grant winners later this month, but so far only one other Georgia team has won a grant since the program began in 2003.

Whitewater submitted an initial application for the grant last spring and received an Excite Award, an invitation to complete a final, more detailed application of the idea. The selection of the finalist teams is based on the inventiveness and feasibility of the proposed idea. A panel of MIT professors, staff and alumni, inventors, researchers, entrepreneurs and high school educators assess the applications.

The team will use the grant money to purchase materials and supplies needed to develop a prototype of their invention. They will have all school year to complete the prototype. The team will display and discuss their invention at the MIT EurekaFest in the spring of 2009.

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