Students at Tampa's Cambridge Christian School Win Grant from Lemelson-MIT for Invention to Help Thwart Devastation of Red Tide in Florida

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The winning high school students will receive Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams funds to develop an Offshore Environmental Monitoring Device; it will transmit real time data about precise locations of red tide so businesses, tourists, and local residents can react quickly.

"What the tourism industry and local residents need is early warning that the red tide is coming,” said a student member of the winning team.

The Lemelson-MIT Foundation, a collaboration between the Lemelson Foundation and MIT, announced that the Cambridge Christian School ( STEM Department's Engineering Principles Class has been awarded a grant of up to $10,000 for development of its red tide tracker invention.

The Lemelson-MIT Foundation inspires, encourages, and honors career, college, and high school inventors. One of America's most prolific inventors, Jerome Lemelson, and his wife founded the program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1994. Grant funding is administered by MIT's School of Engineering.

The Foundation website states, "Invention education is an emerging and transdisciplinary approach to education with meaningful outcomes for students of all backgrounds, educators, and communities."

"The winning invention concept was created by the 12 students in the class,” said Mary Saville, one of two Cambridge Christian School educators who act as coaches for the students. “The students are also responsible for the rigorous grant application, financial reporting, technical design, assembly, testing, coding, and more.”

“We started with many ideas back in the summer, and we used a process to narrow it down to the best five,” said Thomas Johnson, a member of the student team. “Then we voted on the final concept for the application. We’ve got a strong concept and a great team. It will be exciting to see the implementation of the idea evolve as we move toward a prototype.”

The Cambridge Christian School STEM Engineering Principles class will spend the year prototyping a working invention. Grant funds cover materials and testing, and the class has regular deliverables due to Lemelson-MIT. Student leaders learn and carry out project management techniques to stay organized and meet deadlines. In June of 2022, the entire class will travel to MIT's campus for EurekaFest, where they and the other seven grantees will display their prototype and present their work to MIT faculty, other teams, business leaders, inventors, and the public.

Emily Peake, the student team’s Communications and Research leader points out that completing the project involves a lot of behind-the-scenes work. “We’re learning about planning, budgeting, and leadership skills as well as technical skills. While completing the project, we must raise funds for the travel to Boston for EurekaFest. We’re learning to use a 3-D printer to make Christmas ornaments that we’ll sell to help defray the costs.”

The students' invention is called MOSES or Motorized OffShore Environmental Sensor. It is an autonomous marine vessel that travels up to ten miles offshore to gather sensor data, which indicates the presence of red tide, a visible discoloration of sea water. Red tide is caused by the Karenia brevis alga, which is harmful to the respiratory systems of both people and marine life.

"MOSES will use GPS data, and its microcontroller will navigate the vessel along a route with pre-determined coordinates," said Ben Harcourt, one of the students on the team. "I’m interested to see how much our team will learn as we try different solutions and see what fails and what works. The computer programming is going to be a significant part of the project.”

When operational, MOSES will transmit data to be analyzed and visually reported so that timely red tide warnings and notifications can be sent out through text and social media. In addition, MOSES data will be compared with data from the University of South Florida and the MOTE Marine Laboratory and Aquarium to contribute to the area's research data set.

"I’m passionate about the project because it has an impact on the local community. We’re helping ourselves and people who live near us. So, it’s very relatable," said Tony Gaskins, a member of the student team. "What the tourism industry and local residents need is early warning that the red tide is coming.”

“This project is helping me learn in a lot of different areas, because we have to solve real world problems,” said another student, Corey Griffore. “We have to use different kinds of knowledge to make the MOSES craft work properly. One challenge is to build a model to scale so that we can plan the electronics that will guide the prototype out in the waters of the Gulf. It’s pretty challenging.”

About Cambridge Christian School

Founded in 1964, Cambridge Christian School is a college preparatory school serving students 3 months to 12th grade from a Christ-centered worldview. It has become the premier Christian school in the greater Tampa area and was recognized as a 2020 National Blue Ribbon School. Cambridge is focused on providing families with a rigorous educational experience that also allows the student to grow their talents in the arts and athletics. Cambridge partners with families, literally from the cradle to diploma. The school is nationally accredited by the National Council for Private School Accreditation, Christian Schools of Florida, and AdvancEd.

Cambridge Christian School
6101 North Habana Ave
Tampa, Florida 33614

Related Links:

Cambridge Christian School InvenTeam
The Lemelson-MIT Foundation

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Marty Hillier