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Colfax High School Students Receive Grant With Support of Sierra College STEM

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Colfax High School was recently awarded a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant in the amount of $7,500 to create the Tri-Metric, a construction layout tool that can be used when building emergency housing to increase structural integrity.  Colfax High School is one of 16 high schools nationwide to be selected as an InvenTeam this year.

Jonathan Schwartz, Colfax math and engineering teacher is mentoring the team.  “This opportunity builds on the Career Technical Education program we’ve expanded at Colfax High School with the support of the Sierra College Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) Collaborative,” said Schwartz. We focus on product development to attract students to STEM careers.

InvenTeams of high school students, teachers and mentors receive grants to invent technological solutions to real-world problems and to inspire a new generation of inventors.

“The InvenTeams program represents the future,” said Leigh Estabrooks, invention education officer from the Lemelson-MIT Program.  “We place an emphasis on STEM-focused projects to develop interest in these fields among youth.  With InvenTeams, our primary goal is to foster high school students’ passion for invention, in turn inspiring them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering or math.” 

The Colfax students will invent a Tri-Metric tool that can be used when building emergency housing. The goal is to make it easier to lay-out a house. It would allow novice builders to make sure the floor, walls and roof are all square, maximizing support to make the home sturdy.  The students hope to design the mechanical device so it can be manufactured for under $20. The idea is to build in all the complex math of trigonometry into the tool so it can be used by anyone.

“Not only will it help with construction and address a need in relief efforts,” said Schwartz. “More importantly, there will an educational component in this invention that teaches the math involved in constructing a house.”

Carol Pepper-Kittredge, Director, Center for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT), Sierra College will mentor the team. “This project is an extension of the leadership Jonathan Schwartz and Colfax High School have demonstrated as participants in CACT’s Sierra STEM Collaborative,” said Pepper-Kittredge. “By applying their design, fabrication and math skills to solve a global problem, students, especially young women, will be inspired to consider technical careers.”

Entrepreneur and author Peter Sims, who wrote Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries and coauthored the best-seller True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership with Bill George will also mentor the team. A Colfax High School graduate, Sims has already met with students and inspired them with tales of how industry leaders innovate and produce new products.

Schwartz, himself an inventor, says that students will experience working on a team and applying critical thinking skills. “They will design, and repeatedly prototype, test, and rebuild the Tri-Metric construction tool over nine months. They will go through the same experience that inventors go through,” said Schwartz. “In June, the students will showcase a prototype of their invention at EurekaFest at MIT in Cambridge, MA.” EurekaFest, presented by the Lemelson-MIT Program, is a multi-day celebration designed to empower a legacy of inventors through activities that inspire youth, honor role models and encourage creativity and problem solving.

For more information, contact Jonathan Schwartz, Colfax High School at 530-346-2284 x 2408 or jschwart@puhsd.k12.ca.us.

ABOUT THE LEMELSON-MIT PROGRAM

Celebrating innovation, inspiring youth

The Lemelson-MIT Program celebrates outstanding innovators and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention. Jerome H. Lemelson, one of U.S. history’s most prolific inventors, and his wife Dorothy founded the Lemelson-MIT Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994. It is funded by The Lemelson Foundation and administered by the School of Engineering. The Foundation sparks, sustains and celebrates innovation and the inventive spirit. It supports projects in the U.S. and developing countries that nurture innovators and unleash invention to advance economic, social and environmentally sustainable development. To date The Lemelson Foundation has donated or committed more than U.S. $150 million in support of its mission. http://web.mit.edu/invent/

ABOUT THE SIERRA COLLEGE STEM COLLABORATIVE

The Sierra College Center for Applied Competitive Technologies serves manufacturers and technology companies with customized training & technical support; provides entrepreneurs with access to rapid prototyping and other manufacturing technologies; and through the Sierra STEM Collaborative supports career technical education programs in manufacturing & product development, engineering & design pathways at the high school and college level. Additional information about the Sierra STEM Collaborative is available at www.sierraschoolworks.com or contact Carol Pepper-Kittredge at 916-660-7801 or cpepper-kittredge@sierracollege.edu.

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