Veterans Memorial High School (VMHS) educators, Veronica Burgoa and Roy Villanueva, were recently awarded a Lemelson-MIT Excite Award. This award is given annually to a select group of educators across the country who have applied to receive a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant for the following school year and have been selected as a finalist. Award recipients participate in invention education learning opportunities as part of an all-expenses paid trip to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for the Lemelson-MIT Program’s annual EurekaFest, a multi-day invention celebration in mid-June.

“We continue to find ways to challenge our students and to encourage them to become great thinkers and problem solvers,” said Villanueva. “Our students have the initiative and drive to work on advanced research and design projects that can make a difference in the world we live in today.”

Educators are selected for this award based on their capacity to lead a year-long, open-ended invention project with students at their school. At EurekaFest, Excite Award recipients meet and are inspired by current InvenTeams, teams of high school students, teachers and mentors that received grants of up to $10,00 each to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. Villanueva will see the InventTeam projects, learn more about the InvenTeam experience and attend hands-on workshops and discussions led by MIT professors about invention- unique technological solutions to real world problems.

“Excite Award educators who attend EurekaFest leave the event prepared to ignite an interest among high school students in science, math, engineering and invention,” said Leigh Estabrooks, invention education officer from the Lemelson-MIT Program. “They gain new techniques to empower their students through problem solving and encourage a sustainable culture of invention in their school and community.”

Burgoa and Villanueva, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teachers at VMHS initiated the InvenTeam application process in the spring of 2017 and will be invited to submit a final application for the InvenTeam grant after attending EurekaFest that will be due in September. Burgoa and Villanueva will work with the students and mentors throughout the summer to finalize VMHS’ grant application. Burgoa and Villanueva will also reach out to community members with expertise in fields related to the problem that the students plan to address through a technological invention for insight and guidance on how their invention can best serve the community.

A prestigious panel of judges composed of educators, researchers, staff and alumni from MIT, as well as former Lemelson-MIT award winners, will assemble in the fall and select the final InvenTeam grantees.