Friday, April 25, 2008

In the News: InvenTeam in the Saratogian

After our presentation for the Board of Education yesterday Saratogian writer Neil Kirby wrote an article about the Garden Consultant and our InvenTeam which was featured in todays paper. Check it out online here or read the article below.

Students lead the way on plants
Problem-solving group suggests new methods for better gardening
By NEIL KIRBY, The Saratogian

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Project Lead the Way students may have found a more efficient way to get plants in your garden to thrive through an invention they call the Garden Consultant, which will determine which plants or crops are best suited to a given environment.

Project Lead the Way, which allows students to take engineering courses for college credit while still in high school, resulted in the receipt of a $10,000 invention grant from Lemelson-MIT and the formation of an InvenTeam in Saratoga Springs High School. InvenTeam students presented the results of the invention grant to the Board of Education on Thursday.

Students and teachers involved with the InvenTeam were asked to identify a problem that they would then research and try to solve by the development and testing of a prototype.

Technology teacher Michael Gallagher, who served as coordinator and mentor of the InvenTeam, noticed last year that while some types of plants seemed to thrive in his garden, others would unexpectedly die. This observation led to the idea of a Garden Consultant Web site, where gardeners could plug in information on their location and receive back a list of plants that should thrive in the given soil and rainfall conditions.

“Ours was the first of its kind,” InvenTeam member Julianna Wakeman said.

“It’s environmentally friendly,” said Elliott Poppel, InvenTeam member and project coordinator. “Instead of changing the environment to suit the plants, you’re changing the plants to suit the environment.”

Poppel noted that the Garden Consultant should result in reduced use of chemical fertilizers.
In previous years, students taking Engineering Design and Development, the capstone course of Project Lead the Way, were expected to develop individual projects. This year, as part of the InvenTeam, they were asked to collaborate.

“The course involves using what you’ve learned and developing something original,” InvenTeam member Jeffrey Pawlick said.

The InvenTeam is gearing up to present its findings to the MIT grantors in June. The Garden Consultant should be available to the public within the next two weeks, when the finishing touching can be put on the Web site. For more information, visit the InvenTeam’s blog at

Saratoga Springs was one of only 25 school to begin the formation of Project Lead the Way in 2000.

“We plan on doing unique projects for weeks and years to come,” Poppel said.

InvenTeam presents to Board of Education

Last night our InvenTeam gave a presentation for the Saratoga Springs City School District Board of Education during their meeting. Our presentation not only discussed the Garden Consultant but also talked about the Project Lead the Way Program at our school and how through the school districts support of engineering education awesome opportunity's have been made available to us.

Though we do not have a video of the presentation (the battery died) we will be re-recording the presentation over the next week so it will be online and available for all to see. Also, look for us in the Saratogian as a reporter interviewed a few InvenTeam members after lasts nights presentation.

Also, this Monday we will be once again meeting with Bruce Hodge to help integrate all the programs we have written and have the Garden Consultant open for user access. We hope to have our systems online and accessible in the coming weeks.

Check back often for the latest on the InvenTeam and the Garden Consultant. We can't wait for you to try out our working prototype soon!

- Elliott

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Presentation this Thursday

Hello All -

I hope everyone had a great spring break! Members of the InvenTeam did not get much of a chance to ease back into school work though. This week we started off with staying after school to work on programing and a new presentation from 2:30 to 9:00 which we followed up with practicing our presentation today in class for Project Lead the Way representatives as well as members of The Council (a partnership for excellence in agriculture and education) and CASE (Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education) such as Mr. Brad Schloesser.

This Thursday we will be presenting our work as Project Lead the Way students and a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam at a Saratoga Springs City School District Board of Education meeting. We are the first student group ever to present during a meeting and we could not be more excited for this oppertunity to educate the community and the school board on what we are doing and thank them for the support of the programs which have allowed us the opportunity's to be where we are as students and an engineering program today.

This presentation and meeting are open to the public and start at 7:30 PM in the Teaching Auditorium at the High School. We hope you can make it but if not, we will be taping the presentation to be put up on our blog. Thanks for your support and see you then.

- Elliott

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Next Generation of Inventors

Today after school a few Saratoga Springs Project Lead the Way students, including four InvenTeam members, visited Maple Avenue Middle School to talk to some of next year's Freshmen about their first year at high school and the Project Lead the Way program. Invitations went out to the best students the middle school's Technology Education Department had to offer. These bright eighth graders joined us after school for a brief introduction to the five Project Lead the Way courses which we followed up with pizza and a Nintendo Wii Tennis Tournament. We had a great time and by the end of our "party" had every student there signed up for Introduction to Engineering Design (our freshmen level class). We can't wait to see what awesome inventions these future engineers are going to whip out during their time at Saratoga Springs High School.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Inventeam Takes The Stage

This Thursday, Friday, and Saturday two of our InvenTeam members, Duncan Boehle and Stephen Rancour, will be participating in the school musical of "Thoroughly Modern Millie." Duncan is playing the part of Ching Ho and Stephen will be on the running crew. They have been rehearsing the play since January.

Our members' participation in so many creative activities obviously renders the stereotype of pocket-protector-clad engineers as false. Singing, dancing, and designing and creating set have been integral parts of the high school experience, and nothing is better than a well-rounded engineer.