Sturgis wins Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant

Charter school team will use grant to develop a transporter cart for marine mammal rescue

Last month, Sturgis Charter Public School (West Campus) was awarded a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant. The grant will be used to develop a transporter cart for marine mammal rescues.  Sturgis was one of sixteen schools nationwide to receive the grant.

InvenTeams are teams of high school students, teachers and mentors.  Grants of up to $10,000 are awarded to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. Sturgis West's Lead Teacher of History, Eric Hillebrand, began the application process last spring and attended training at MIT to help prepare the final proposal.

The Sturgis West InvenTeam: (front row)  Hannah Durette of Sandwich, Sarah Correia of Bourne, Dominic Fucile of Falmouth; (back row)  Ryley Newton of Hyannis, Jack Perry of Brewster, Josh Hassler of Sandwich. Photo courtesy of Sturgis.

A prestigious panel of judges reviewed all applications this fall and chose Sturgis West as one of the grant winners.

The Sturgis West InvenTeam will work with mentor Paul Fucile, a senior engineer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who will guide them through development. The marine mammal rescue transporter the team is developing will be used by rescue crews from Yarmouth Port-based International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). The transporter will be built of lightweight aluminum tubing, beach wheels, a hand crank and a custom dolphin sling. The custom sling is intended to reduce trauma for the animal.  The result will be a lighter-weight, easily disassembled cart with better steering.

"We are all very excited about the possibilities of how this new dolphin cart design will aid in our rescue efforts and potentially increase our successful release rate of stranded dolphins back to the wild," said Charles Harry, a marine biologist with IFAW.

Last winter saw a record number of dolphin strandings along Cape Cod shores.

The Sturgis West InvenTeam will develop their project over the next several months and will present a protoype of their design at EurekaFest at MIT in Cambridge in June.

See the list of all the InvenTeams here.  Sturgis is one of four schools in Massachusetts.

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