Greenon InvenTeam Applies for Patent

Greenon InvenTeam Applies for Patent
Posted on 04/28/2021
Microsoft’s #MakeWhatsNextProgram, a team of attorneys that supports female inventors, offered pro-bono patent application support to the group of 14 student inventors, including 12 female students.

The Greenon InvenTeam - a group of Greenon student and teacher inventors who were selected for the prestigious Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant in 2019 - have applied for a patent for their animal-friendly prototype of a net system to address the issue of manmade debris in waterways. “Being selected for the InvenTeam grant and now having the opportunity to pursue a patent is an example of the kind of real-world and innovative learning experiences our STEM program at Greenon Schools offers,” said Superintendent Darrin Knapke. “The passion this team had for addressing this environmental issue facing our local community has made it possible for their work to benefit not only their hometowns, but possibly communities across the world as they now pursue the US patent.”

Now in its 18th year as a national grants initiative, InvenTeams inspire young people to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. The Greenon team chose an environmental issue facing not just our local community, but communities around the world. 

After receiving positive feedback about their prototype, the team of five teachers and 14 students had the opportunity to learn about patent law from Dayton Patent Attorney Sam Han.  After learning more about the prohibitive costs of pursuing a patent, the Lemelson-MIT Program - recognizing the promise of the team’s idea - connected the team with patent attorneys at Microsoft which supports female inventors. The team of 14 students, including 12 female students, met and discussed the project with the #MakeWhatsNextProgram. The Program offered pro bono support to help the Greenon Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam file for a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  “The students of the Greenon InvenTeam showed tremendous enthusiasm and inventive spirit throughout the patent process. They were able to describe their invention with clarity and confidence. It was a pleasure working with such talented young ladies and young men.” said Tom Wong, Assistant General Counsel at Microsoft who drafted the patent application for the Greenon InvenTeam.

The Greenon InvenTeam’s design is now “patent pending.” “While our team is hopeful that we will obtain a patent for our idea, we are still focusing on our primary objective which is to make a difference in our community,” said Greenon STEM Teacher Tom Jenkins. “The team is shaking off the dust from our COVID hiatus, added two new team members, and plans to resume construction and field testing of their prototype over the spring and the summer of this year.” The Team is also seeking a business partner to support their project by providing access to an industrial sewing machine that will help them sew together the mesh plastic screen and the 11-12 mil Polyethylene heavy duty tarp that are vital to the design, so they can combine segments of the mesh sock that will capture the debris from the outfall pipe. If you are able to assist with this project, please contact Mr. Jenkins at tjenkins@greenonschools.org. The Greenon InvenTeam includes Braelynn Cameron, Kacie Sizer, Makenzie Gossett, Emma Bennett, Alex Tighe, Lacey Herdman, Kylie Mader, Rhia Thomas, Masonn Hayslip, and Tyler Jenkins, Madison North, Lily Hopkins, Alexa Cunningham, and Arizona Henderson. They are led by Greenon teachers Kyle Bandy, Tina Harris, Tom Jenkins, Jim Shaner, and Jennifer Tropp. Local governmental agencies, Hays Fabricating and Enon-based company Seepex Inc. provided support and guidance for the team throughout the development of the prototype.

About the Greenon Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam project With a $9,200 grant from the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam initiative, the team explored options to safely reduce the amount of man-made debris that exists within the Mad River and its tributaries. They developed a net system that can be used to cover the end of the drain pipes that dump storm drain water (along with other items) directly into our local waterways. The team developed an animal-friendly prototype that would allow for the free flow of water while catching and retaining debris. Various materials, forms of net construction, as well as anchoring systems were explored to create a durable net system that would function as intended by the design team. Additionally, the team developed a battery-powered device that could measure the amount of tension, then remotely alert the team once the net was full. 

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