Teacher earns MIT award

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KAILUA-KONA — Justin Brown, Kealakehe High School’s career and technical education coordinator, was named a recipient of a Lemelson-MIT Excite Award.

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KAILUA-KONA — Justin Brown, Kealakehe High School’s career and technical education coordinator, was named a recipient of a Lemelson-MIT Excite Award.

The award is given annually to teachers identified as finalists for the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant, which provides up to $10,000 to teams of high-school students, teachers and mentors to come up with technological solutions to real-world problems.

InvenTeams is an initiative from the Lemelson-MIT program, which is focused on recognizing inventors and inspiring youth to pursue careers in invention. The program is administered by the School of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Working alongside dynamic educators and the world class resources at MIT inspired me,” said Brown in a Department of Education release. “I hope to share the experience and insights with all of my students as we try to solve real problems for our local community utilizing radical collaboration, 21st century tools, and rigorous market analysis.”

Recipients of the Excite Award participated in invention education learning opportunities during a trip to MIT for the program’s annual EurekaFest in June.

Brown and students from Kealakehe’s STEM Academy and Robotics Program started the InvenTeam applications process in Spring 2017.

Over a course of three rounds in the style of “Shark Tank,” more than 75 students pitched their inventions for final consideration.

In the end, a handful of proposals, including a device to evaluate blood-alcohol level, a personal sterilization device, and a robot that inoculates coffee trees against the coffee berry borer were the finalists.

And while the final proposal pulled together research from all of those concepts, the final proposal focused on a system that could continually monitor blood-alcohol content for drivers.

“Our team passionately sought to solve the driving under the influence problem,” said senior Hope Kudo in the announcement, “but I think we grew most in the process of inventions and patent research.”

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Students also connected with community members with expertise in the field of the problems they were researching, reviewed dozens of patents and researched ways to determine how best their invention could serve the community.

A panel of judges composed of teachers, researchers, MIT staff and alumni, and former award winners will gather in the fall and select the final InvenTeam grantees.

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