Friday, February 29, 2008

Our Presentation and The Lemelson-Rensselaer Student Prize

Last Thursday our InvenTeam packed up early and left school for Troy, NY to check out the Lemelson-Rensselaer Student Prize Ceremony. We got to watch Dorothy Lemelson, chair of the Lemelson Foundation, and Alan Cramb, dean of the School of Engineering, award Martin Schubert the $30,000 Lemelson-Rensselaer Student Prize for his work in creating the first ever polarized LED. Not only did we get to hear about all of the really cool inventions all four finalists made but we also met various engineering professional attending the ceremony. We even got to meet Mrs. Lemelson herself and thank her for the awesome oppertunity her and her late husband made available to us.

After the ceremony we made our way to one of the presentation classrooms at the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies where we presented our progress so far and the overall Garden Consultant concept to some of the highest ranking engineering professionals in the world. We were joined by Merton Flemings (Lemelson-MIT Faculty Director), Phil Weilerstein (Executive Director of the NCIIA), Burt Swersey (RPI Professor), Lester Rubenfeld (Director for the Center for Initiatives in Pre-College Education at RPI), Brian Schulkin (Winner of the 2007 Lemelson-RPI Student Prize), and of course, Leigh Estabrooks (InvenTeams Grant Officer) .

We had a great time presenting the work we had done and our plans for the Garden Consultant and getting real input from such high ranking and intelligent members of the engineering community. Just being at RPI was an awesome experience. The electricity that could be felt throughout campus is amazing and I know I personally could not be more excited for college next year.

In the very near future we will be posting the presentation we gave at RPI online in video form. We also have received permission to re-post our videos online so soon all of our presentation and informational videos will be online for all to see.

Thanks so much RPI for having us for the ceremony and our presentation and thanks all who attended and everyone from the Lemelson Foundation for their support of our InvenTeam and the InvenTeam Grant Program.

Thanks -

Elliott Poppel

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lemelson-RPI Student Prize

On February 28th our InvenTeam has been asked to join in the exciting festivities of the awarding of the Lemelson-Rensselaer Student Prize 2008. This prestigious award is granted to "a Rensselaer senior or graduate student who has created or improved a product or process, applied a technology in a new way, or otherwise demonstrated remarkable inventiveness."

Not only are we being given the oppertunity to be part of this awesome award ceremony but afterwards we are meeting with Brian Schulkin, the 2007 winner of the Lemelson-RPI Student Prize.

Schulkin created hand held T-Ray device which is revolutionary in the field of sensing and imaging. His revolutionary device is capable of identifying breaks in space shuttle foam and counterfeit currency and fits in easily in a regular briefcase.

Schulkin also sat on the board for the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam program which selected which high schools would be granted the $10,000 award. We have heard that he personally looked over our proposal and we can not wait to talk to him about it.

For more information on the Lemelson-RPI Student Prize visit the links above and to watch the presentation live follow this link at 2:00 PM on the 28th.

- Elliott

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sonar Range Finder

Today, Steve and I put together a sonar range finder. The device is just a small black cylinder, about a half inch in diameter and a half inch tall with three wires sticking off of it.

First, I had to solder the wires onto the device. I'm not very experienced with a soldering iron and I didn't want to set the fire alarm off, so this put a little pressure on me, but I pulled it off!

Then, I wired it to our SensorDAQ and made a quick program in LabVIEW. The sonar sensor has an output that displays the measured distance as a multiple of 127 µS (micro-seconds). For example, 10 inches would produce a pulse of 1.27 mS (mili-seconds) or 1270 µS.

Finally, we tested to make sure the sensor would read water. We filled a coffee can with water and held the sensor above the can, noting its reading before and after we filled the can. And it worked!

Part of the Lemelson-InvenTeam Initiative is finding EUREKA! moments. Plugging a couple wires in, clicking "run" on a computer screen, and having a value change as I wave my hand is, in my opinion, a EUREKA! moment.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Putting Together the Software Pieces

The last couple of weeks have been exciting for our team! The database group successfully uploaded a database of 49 plants to the web server using MySQL. The database uses 18 specific fields for each plant, so that we can match plants as closely as possible with soil conditions. Additionally, students working working on Perl and HTML programming successfully created a web page that searches the database for plant-specific information, and will soon be able to add information to the database. They also created a basic interface for the web page that customers would see when they upload data or search the website. This dynamic interaction between Perl and MySQL is the hallmark of what industry calls a Web-Database Application. As we continue to build parts of the software, we enjoy fulfilling the challenges of linking the parts together.
-Jeff Pawlick

Monday, February 4, 2008

Attention: Videos No Longer On-Line

Hello All -

I appologise for the inconveniance but the informational and educational videos we have made have been temporarily taken off-line.

We are now learning the ins and outs of copyright laws and by the request of Melissa Makofske, communications director for the Lemelson-MIT Program, we are taking our videos off-line until we recieve permission from the owners of all images we used in our presentations.

We have begun contacting the owners of images we have used and all have been more than ok with our use of them. This is just antoher learning experience complements of the Lemelson-MIT Program and in the end, our team will be better off for this experience.

For more information, contact us at Thank you all for your support and we are sorry for any inconveniance this may cause you.

Sincerely -

Elliott Poppel
Project Manager
Saratoga Springs HS InvenTeam

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Contributors to the "Site Assessment for Gardeners" Workbook Lend a Helping Hand

About a week ago I sent out e-mails to various contributors to the "Site Assessment for Gardeners" Workbook, asking if they wouldn't mind providing suggestions to improve our digital modifications to the manual site tests described in the workbook. I am pleased to say that I am currently in contact with four of the contributors, and they have all provided invaluable advice on many aspects of our project. Cornell University Professors Dr. Nina Bassuk and Dr. Tammo Steenhuis, Craig Cramer, and retired Cornell University Professor and author of the "Site Assessment for Gardeners" Workbook Charlie Mazza have all generously agreed to look over our test modifications and provide their own advice on how to improve these tests. We are very excited to work with these individuals in the future, and priveleged to hear their advice.

At his request we have added Charlie Mazza to our blog, and are in the process of creating an instructional video detailing how to take advantage of all the blog has to offer. We look forward to his future posts and advice!