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Cincinnati Country Day School Selected as Finalist for Lemelson-MIT Grant, Educators Recognized with Lemelson-MIT Excite Award

Cincinnati Country Day School Selected as Finalist for Lemelson-MIT Grant, Educators Recognized with Lemelson-MIT Excite Award

Cincinnati Country Day School has been selected as one of 28 finalist schools across the country for the highly competitive 2023-24 Lemelson-MIT (LMIT) InvenTeams grant initiative.

Jamie Back, STEAM teacher and Makerspace coordinator, and Angela Barber-Joiner, director of equity, diversity, inclusion and social-emotional learning, applied for the LMIT InvenTeams grant in April. As finalists, they are also recipients of the Excite Award, which includes an invitation to LMIT’s invention education summer professional development and the annual EurekaFest celebration at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) this June.

During July and August, Back and Barber-Joiner will work with a core team of Upper School students – an “InvenTeam” – to identify a problem in the community and write a full grant proposal to submit to LMIT. If awarded the grant, Country Day’s InvenTeam would receive a $7,500 grant to research, design, and construct a working prototype of a technological invention. The team would then present their invention during the 2024 EurekaFest celebration at MIT next June.

LMIT’s website explains that they are national leaders in “preparing the next generation of inventors and entrepreneurs. [Their] work focuses on the expansion of opportunities for young people to learn ways inventors find and solve problems that matter.” For the InvenTeams grant initiative, LMIT is “seeking applications from educators who are equally committed to remedying historic inequities among those who invent. [They] strongly believe that invention education is for all and are committed to working with teachers and their schools to offer opportunities in invention education.”

“The purpose of this program reflects Cincinnati Country Day’s mission of creating leaders who strive to understand themselves and the world around them,” says Barber-Joiner. “As students work on this project, they will discover their own abilities through the inventive, inquiry-based, hands-on experience. This project will cultivate self-advocacy, emotional resilience, and the essential personal skills necessary to explore new ideas and persevere through challenges. Students will kindle the potential of others while working on a diverse, inclusive team and learning from the diverse experiences and viewpoints of their peers. By being empathetic stewards of the community, together they will better a dynamic world with their invention.”

The InvenTeam program has been changing the way educators teach and has been providing young people – especially young women and students from underrepresented backgrounds – with creative problem-solving and 21st-century skills to flourish in college and career since 2003.

“It is a priority for us to ensure that students of all ethnic, gender, and socio-economic backgrounds see themselves as inventors,” says Back. “It takes people to solve real-life problems and with commitment, determination, and creativity, we can accomplish great things.”

Up to 10 schools are selected annually to run an InvenTeam. This includes grant money, support from MIT resources, visits from MIT staff, and a final presentation in June at MIT. Student InvenTeams have received 15 patents for their inventions.

Grant applications are due in early September. A 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.

Both Back and Barber-Joiner feel strongly that, if selected, this grant will create leaders in our student community.

“If we are selected, I hope the InvenTeam students feel empowered as role models for our younger students and gain confidence that their ideas and their work can change the world for somebody,” says Back. “An opportunity like this highlights the fact that everyone can be an inventor, that we make better things when all of us are represented.”

For more information about the grant, visit To follow the Country Day InvenTeam throughout the summer, visit Country Day’s social media platforms or search the hashtag #CCDSInvenTeam on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.