Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Compliment from Merton Flemmings

After posting our latest video online we have received quite a bit of praise and congratulations on our efforts to collaborate with the Great River InvenTeam. Members of the Lemelson-MIT Program as well as other engineering professionals have complemented the work we have done in helping Great River with the Windamajig. Recently we received this compliment from Merton Flemmings. With his permission we are happy to post this to our blog.

"I am writing specifically to compliment you on the excellent video you and your team put together for the Great River School. I know how appreciative Great River School is. You are great extended-team players!"
- Merton Flemmings (Professor & Faculty Director for the Lemelson-MIT Program)

Thank you Mr. Flemmings and everyone else for your support of our InvenTeam. Happy Easter!

- Elliott

Monday, March 17, 2008

Offering a Helping Hand: Great River School's "Windamajig" Project

Recently, Leigh Estabrooks approached our team with a new challenge: to offer some guidance to another school whose project had some similar research topics as ours. Specifically, their project dealt with using cheap anemometers to record windspeeds at various altitudes. Our recent work with home-made anemometers and data acquisition may prove to be very useful for them. Some of us have taken the past week or two to come up with a detailed possible solution to the Great River School's problem statement (as well as their issue of weather balloons tilting over), and we strongly hope that we have been able to contribute to the future success of their project, the Windamajig.

We are extremely fortunate to have the extra resources available in order to help our fellow teams, and we would be very honored to do so again in the future, just as we hope to make an impact on the younger generations of our own school.

This is the video of our presentation to their team, outlining the concepts that we have come up with to address their problem. For a full screen version of the video click here.

Good luck Great River and we look forward to talking to you more about the Windamajig soon.

- Duncan

Friday, March 14, 2008


Hi, InvenTeam,

I wanted to let you know that I am trying to catch up with all the posts you have made since last Fall, as well as look at the videos you created. It might take me a little time to digest all you have done. I'm quite pleased and honored that you have chosen "Site Assessment for Gardeners: a step-by-step workbook for better gardens and landscapes" as your prototype for InvenTeam work.

While there is much to digest, I want to follow the measurement of soil characteristics as a start. Back in December, for instance, Tim located a link on soil compaction from the University of Minnesota. It was good reading and informative. I have to always question farm related pieces like this to assess its applicability to a home garden and landscape. Both farms and home properties have compaction issues, but the emphasis on heavy tractors on large acreages of farm land growing shallow rooted food crops may pose slightly different concerns than planting a deep-rooted tree in a home landscape that has been compacted. Maybe there is more similarity than I am crediting.

Related to that was something that was on one of the videos, explaining how soil types would be linked to appropriate plants for the garden. I need to understand more about that, since it is key to successful site assessment. However, my question would be that soil survey maps were developed for farmland (there are those farm comparisons again). What John Doe experiences with his new suburban home that was once farmland or the gardener in downtown Troy, whose house was built in 1910, is very different from what the soil survey map shows for Farmer Gray. Home gardens and landscapes are built mostly on disturbed soils (partly from the construction and partly from practices such as bringing in soil fill or amending the soil over the years so that it has a different profile from the soil survey map on record.

Those are my initial thoughts. Keep up the good work. What you are doing is so fascinating and creative. I'm quite pleased.

Charlie Mazza

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Stuffing Easter Eggs for Double H

Today after school five InvenTeam members and Mr. Gallagher got together to stuff Easter eggs for the Double H Hole in the Woods Ranch. This was our first team outing to complete our plans for community service. We had a great time!

Double H is a local camp that provides activities year-round for children dealing with life-threatening illnesses and their families. It is a wonderful organization with a wonderful cause, and we look forward to working with them again.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Our Latest Video: A journey throught the engineering design and development flow chart.

Hello Everyone,

Today we finished up editing out latest video. This movie is a narrated Power Point which we presented to various members of the engineering community on March 28th at RPI after the Lemelson-RPI Student Prize Ceremony. This presentation uses the Engineering Design and Development flow chart to describe the invention process and how we applied the necessary steps to creating the Garden Consultant.

As mentioned in the video we will soon be making another short video which will dive deeper into the technology the Garden Consultant uses such as Perl, LabVIEW, MySQL, and the various sensors we have incorporated into the Garden Consultant System.

Feel free to watch this video above directly from this post or check out this video as well as our other films down at the bottom of the page with InvenTeamTV.

Thanks and enjoy,

Monday, March 10, 2008

Always Looking Forward...

As we are hearing from colleges and planning the next phase of our lives, we want to make sure that we are leaving our project in good hands for the years to come. We have already begun working with some Juniors currently taking Computer Integrated Manufacturing, familiarizing them with our project plans. In an effort to encourage younger students to the path of Engineering and innovation, we are also reaching out to eighth graders. Next Thursday a bunch of the InvenTeam members and some Project Lead the Way teachers are going over to the Middle School to host a pizza and Wii party for a select group of eighth grade technology students. Hopefully they'll learn a little bit about PLTW and all the fun we have and be encouraged to start Project Lead the Way next year.

I can't wait!


A Post to the Mega-Blog: Can innovation be taught?

Our InvenTeam was recently asked to read an article and post our comments to a question posed by the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam Program. They asked, "Can innovation be taught?"

Head on over to the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam blog to check out our teams response as well as what other teams had to say.

Paying it Forward

Over the course of our project, our InvenTeam has been extremely fortunate to receive help and advice from professionals in many fields. These individuals have generously donated their time and expertise to benefit our project. The Garden Consultant would not nearly be what it is today without their help. Local inventor Bruce Hodge, of Tech Valley Technologies, spends nearly every Monday night with us at school until around nine at night. We are especially appreciative of his time and effort.

When we attended the presentation of the Lemelson-Rensselaer Prize Mrs. Dorothy Lemelson, wife of the late Jerome Lemelson, spoke of her philanthropic goals for the Lemelson Foundation. When the foundation was created, Mr. Lemelson's goal was to give back to the world by helping inventors. Through his and his wife's work, the Lemelson Foundation has fostered the inventive spirit by providing funds and support for inventors of all ages. We are so fortunate to be a part of this initiative, and wish to continue this trend of giving back what we have received.

In this light, we have decided that it is only right to give back. In a new team initiative, all members of the SSHS InvenTeam will participate in twice as many hours of community service as they have received in help from outside individuals. We are so excited to take part in these new opportunities, and so thankful for the help we have received so far!


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Collaborating with the Great River InvenTeam

In our recent progress report review Mrs. Estabrooks noted some overlap in our work and the Great River, Minnesota Windamajig project. We have contacted them and are very excited to work with their team. Their advisor, Mr. Michael Flood, replied "You're an impressive team - we appreciate the invite!"

We have a great group of Saratoga's Engineering students that have begun working with Great River. We expect to have a presentation for them out by early next week. Stay tuned for more details!


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

InvenTeamTV: Videos back online

Hey Everyone -

If you have not already noticed our newest add-on, scroll on down to the bottom of the page and check out InvenTeamTV brought to you by This cool new widget gives us an easily accessible and most importantly, a cool looking way to show off out teams latest videos.

We will soon be recording our latest presentation (which was given recently at RPI) and putting that up online for you all to check out as well.

We are sorry that we were unable to host our videos for a while. We were asked by representatives from the InvenTeam Program to take down the videos upon questions of image copyright infringement but we have asked permission of all images sources and all videos are ready to go back online.

Enjoy the videos, hopefully they can help you better understand the mission of our InvenTeam and the Garden Consultant, and thanks for your help and support.

- Elliott

Monday, March 3, 2008

InvenTeam Rocks!

For those of you who haven't already heard Brother Aside won Sunday nights Battle of the Bands at Northern Lights. InvenTeam members Jeff Pawlick (Keyboard and Electric Violin) and Mike Bogardus (Bass Guitar) played an awesome show helping their band to victory. They now get to open for a natioanly signed band of their choice in Chicago later this year and move on to the next round in the Battle of the Bands.

It was an awesome concert and the group of us that went down for the show had a great time. Obviously not only are our InvenTeam members smart students but they are also members of bands, sports teams, clubs, and tons of other activities. Nothing says well rounded like an engineer in a rock band.

Intro to Blogger Video: A Quick Guide to Posting and Commenting

For those of you that have been invited or wish to be invited, here is a quick tutorial on how to create posts and comment to our blog. This video explains the basics of Blogger and will have you posting in no time.

If you would like a "large screen" version feel free to e-mail me at and I would be happy to get back to you. Also, if you are having trouble watching this on an Apple Computer I have a version to help with that issue too.

Thanks and Enjoy -