Grant fu­els in­ven­tors at Ann Richards school

School’s In­venteam re­ceives $9,500 from MIT, Lemel­son to build pro­duce preserver.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - Byjody Ser­rano jser­rano@states­man.com Con­tact Jody Ser­rano at 9122505.

On a Satur­day at the Ann Richards School for Young Women Lead­ers, a group of girls de­bated how to cre­ate the steady tem­per­a­ture needed for a pres­sur­ized pro­duce preserver.

The de­vice, which would run on sus­tain­able en­ergy, aims to help low-in­come in­di­vid­u­als pre­serve food for longer pe­ri­ods of time.

Boast­ing 12 high school stu­dents and two teach­ers, the group is part of the Ann Richard’s In­venTeam and re­cently re­ceived a $9,500 grant from a Lemel­son and Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy pro­gram to build a pro­to­type of their de­vice.

The pro­gram re­quires stu- dents to solve cur­rent prob­lems us­ing sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math.

Ann Richards is one of 16 high schools na­tion­wide to re­ceive a grant and will show­case a fin­ished prod­uct in June.

El­iza Martin is a 10th-grader at Ann Richards and is part of the team. Martin said she was in­spired to tackle hunger in low-in­come ar­eas be­cause her grand­mother lived when not all Amer­i­cans had re­frig­er­a­tors.

She ad­mits she is not an ex­pert in tech­nol­ogy, but she helps the team by do­ing a lot of re­search.

“Ev­ery­thing I’ve learned in school is all coming to­gether,” Martin said. “I’m phys­i­cally cre­at­ing some­thing.”

Teach­ers Shireen Dad­mehr and Shamaa Lak­sh­manan said they never imag­ined mak­ing it this far and get­ting the grant.

“Just try some­thing,” Dad­mehr said. “You might do things you don’t think are pos- sible.”

Since the girls are in­volved in other ac­tiv­i­ties, the team meets weekly af­ter school and on week­ends.

Many of those times, the team faces bumps be­cause the math and physics is com­pli­cated.

“They’re work­ing on a bump right now,” Dad­mehr said.

School Prin­ci­pal Jeanne Goka said the grant money will al­low the team to pur­chase the ma­te­ri­als to build their pro­to­type. The team helps cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment of au­then­tic learn­ing by al­low­ing them to use what they’ve learned in the class­room to help oth­ers, she said.

“They’ll start here and there’s no telling where they’ll go with the power of know­ing they can take on the world’s prob­lem and solve them,” Goka said.

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