Project Invent Builds at Parker

By Cas Spencer ’22

Project Invent is an extracurricular activity new to Parker this year. In Project Invent, we use design thinking, engineering and computer science to invent a physical device for a community partner. Our community partner this year is Grayson Schmenti, a junior at Parker with multiple severe allergies.

On our team we have nine students in different grades: Talia Albert (10th), Alicia Berger (10th), Sofia Brown (10th), Savanna Maness (9th), Payton Pitts (9th), Ruby Radis (10th), Yazmin Velazquez (9th), Krystal Xu (9th) and myself. We also have three faculty advisors: Integrated Learning and Information Science members Sarah Beebe, Mary Catherine Coleman and Annette Lesak.

So far, we have gone through the steps of developing empathy through interviews and keeping track of what we eat to see how much of it Grayson could eat. Then, we categorized all of the information we gained and wrote it on sticky notes. We then mapped out a day in the life of Grayson. We brainstormed all the things we could build to improve his quality of life and decided on a pack he could keep in his bag holding all of the things he needs when he has an allergic reaction. We looked online to verify that something like this does not already exist, and our invention is original.

After we decided what we were going to build, we started prototyping. We created sketches and looked online at different cases to put our product in. We still have a lot of work ahead of us. Next we need to make a working prototype and have Grayson test it to see if it could work. In February we will host a design review, where other community members will look at our design and share their feedback.

Once we have decided on a final design, we need to create a pitch consisting of a slide deck and presentation. All of this work will eventually pay off during our Demo Day on Saturday, April 25 in New York City, where we will be presenting our invention to real investors and there is potential to win actual startup funds. The Francis W. Parker School team is one among only 40 teams nationwide and the only team in Illinois.
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.