In 2007, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) awarded a $7,000 MIT-Lemelson InvenTeam grant to Francis W. Parker School, which provided a group of Upper School science students with the opportunity to propose and produce an original invention of their choosing. The Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant program strives to empower teens to identify a need or problem and work collaboratively to invent a solution to it.
Parker’s team is close to finishing its project and soon will be ready to present a prototype. The students are developing new technology that will help alert drivers to the presence of bicycle riders sharing the road alongside them, aiming to reduce the number of injuries and deaths incurred by cyclists each year.
This technology consists of a chip that students will program to alert a driver when a cyclist is getting too close to a car. The primary component of this product is a radio frequency transmitter added onto the blinking LED lights bicycle stores commonly sell to cyclists.
This Wi-Fi technological device will work in conjunction with a transceiver installed with an LED display panel inside a car. Once completed, the team will have a two-part device: one inside a car, the other on the bars of a bicycle. This device should provide both audio and visual alerts that will simultaneously inform both driver and cyclist of dangerous proximity, allowing them to avert impending danger.
Xiao Zhang, Upper School science teacher and faculty advisor to Parker’s InvenTeam, sees connections to all areas of scientific study via the program. Zhang hopes that more children will become involved in the InvenTeams program in the future as a means of applying skills they develop in chemistry, engineering, biology and physics classes.
A prestigious panel of judges, composed of educators and researchers from the MIT, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Department of Education; representatives from the industry; and MIT staff and alumni, selected Parker from a national pool of applicants to participate in this annual program.
This year’s team hopes to have a prototype ready by the end of May and present the final project on June 25, when they go to Boston for the official presentation.