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Ann Richards School Earns Grant from MIT Organization

Students Developing Produce Preserver to Increase Access to Fresh Produce

Austin, Texas—The Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam recently awarded a $9,500 grant to the Ann Richards School for Young Women leaders to create a pressurized produce preserver that runs on sustainable renewable energy. The school is one of just 16 high schools nationwide selected as an InvenTeam this year.    


The Limelson-MIT Program aims to inspire a new generation of inventors by awarding grants of up to $10,000 to high school students, teachers and mentors to develop technological solutions to real-world problems.


Teachers Shireen Dadmehr and Shamaa Lakshmanan at The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders initiated the InvenTeam application process last spring and attended training at the MIT in June to help prepare the final proposal.  A prestigious panel of judges composed of educators, researchers, staff and alumni from MIT, as well as representatives from the industry and former Lemelson-MIT Award winners, determined this year's grant recipients.


The pressurized produce preserver will allow people with limited resources to have access to edible produce longer. The device uses replanting techniques and the natural insulation properties of sand and soil combined with an integrated pressurized system that runs on sustainable energy to adjust humidity and temperature.


"We're impressed with how our students started and completed the process of choosing a problem and finding a solution," Dadmehr and Lakshmanan said. "We are currently in the prototyping stage. We're excited to have our 12 girls become inventors and have the ability and support to go through this experience."


During the next nine months, the The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders InvenTeam will develop its pressurized produce preserver. In June, the students will showcase a prototype of their invention at EurekaFest at MIT. EurekaFest, presented by the Lemelson-MIT Program, is a multi-day celebration designed to empower a legacy of inventors through activities that inspire youth, honor role models and encourage creativity and problem solving.