Greenon High School invention team obtains patent for environmental system

Jan. 30 – Greenon High School’s InvenTeam is officially the inventor of a U.S. patent for an environmental system they developed, the district announced in a statement.

The team was granted a patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office for their invention of an animal-friendly netting system to reduce man-made debris in local waterways. It will allow the free flow of water while capturing and retaining debris.

“From start to finish, the work of Greenon InvenTeam students and teachers has highlighted the impact of what can happen when students are engaged and excited about their learning,” said Superintendent Darrin Knapke . “As teenagers, these Greenon Knights are already inventors on a patent, and this is just the beginning of amazing things to come for these students.”

The team developed a netting system that can be used to cover the end of drain pipes that discharge stormwater, along with other items, directly into local waterways. They used various materials, forms of netting construction and anchoring systems to create a durable netting system. They’ve also developed a battery-powered device that can measure the amount of strain and then remotely alert the team once the net is full.

This system was developed with coaching and mentoring that also included a grant from the Lemelson-MIT (LMIT) program. After a successful prototype, LMIT staff connected them with Microsoft’s MakeWhatsNext patent program, which offers female inventors and their teams pro bono legal assistance in patenting their inventions.

With help from the MakesWhatsNext patent program, the U.S. Patent Office issued U.S. Patent 11,230,836 on Jan. 25 to the team of 14 student inventors, including 12 female students and five educators, the statement said. A number of female students on the team are interested in pursuing careers in STEM, and several of them are already attending college and majoring in STEM-related fields.

“Being named on a patent is a significant achievement for these young inventors, and I’m glad our program helped make that possible,” said Tom Wong, Microsoft patent attorney and MakeWhatsNext patent program volunteer. “It is also gratifying to see that several of these young female inventors have decided to pursue a university education in a STEM field after graduating from high school.”

The team includes Braelynn Cameron, Kacie Sizer, Makenzie Gossett, Emma Bennett, Alex Tighe, Lacy Herdman, Kylie Mader, Rhia Thomas, Masonn Hayslip, Tyler Jenkins, Madison North, Lily Hopkins, Alexa Cunningham and Arizona Henderson. They are led by professors Kyle Bandy, Tina Harris, Tom Jenkins, Jim Shaner and Jennifer Tropp.

Jenkins said having the opportunity in high school to participate in the InvenTeam program is a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”

“Being able to go beyond that to learn more about the patent process, work with local and global partners in product development, and now receive a U.S. patent is an experience that has enriched the education of not only our team, but of all the students, staff and members of the Greenon community who have supported us on this journey,” he said.