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Lemelson-MIT Awards CCDS Students with an Invention Grant

Lemelson-MIT Awards CCDS Students with an Invention Grant

Cincinnati Country Day School was awarded a Lemelson-MIT (LMIT) InvenTeam grant in the amount of $7,500 to create an invention geared towards improving road bike safety. Country Day, which was recently ranked the #1 best high school for STEM in the Cincinnati area by, is one of only eight high schools nationwide to be selected to have an InvenTeam this year.

“We are thrilled and proud to receive this prestigious grant,” says Jamie Back, InvenTeam co-educator, STEAM teacher, and Makerspace coordinator. “It’s a big responsibility, but because our InvenTeam is such a diverse group, we have been able to come up with innovative and unconventional solutions.  We are prepared to make a difference with our invention and the support of this esteemed program.”

InvenTeam members include Ayaan Arif `25, Alex Back `25, Donovan Gray `25, Kate Kranias `26, Lucia Murdoch `25, Ashley Odom `25, Kevin Pearson `25, Jason Starodub `26, and Samantha Wu `26.

“There's something special about working on a team versus being by yourself,” says Kranias. “Working together and watching an invention come together as something that will actually help bicyclists will be really satisfying.”

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, over 100,000 bicyclists are injured or killed every year in the United States. In addition, the National Safety Council reported that the number of preventable deaths from biking accidents increased 44% between 2011 and 2020. Many driver-related bicycling accidents are caused by a lack of visibility, even in daylight. To help reduce these deaths and injuries, the Cincinnati Country Day School InvenTeam is inventing a solution to improve road bike safety by increasing cyclist and driver awareness of each other.

“I enjoy biking a lot, so it's cool to be part of a team that has the opportunity to solve a problem that cyclists face on a national scale,” says Starodub. “The direct impact we can make in our community and the overall impact we can make for cyclists everywhere is really special to me.”

Jamie Back and Angela Barber-Joiner, director of belonging & wellbeing and InvenTeam co-educator, initiated Country Day’s InvenTeam application process in the spring, and their proposal was one of 28 accepted across the country This team of students worked over 70 hours during the summer, school lunchtimes, free bells, weekends, and after school to prepare the final proposal in time for the September deadline.

“We are grateful for the support we have received from so many people in our Country Day community,” says Barber-Joiner. “But I must extend a special thank-you to Country Day parents, Justin and Lisa Shafer, who were inspired by the team’s success in the application phase and made a generous gift to the school to provide the meals, snacks, and supplies for our InvenTeam meetings. I know I speak on behalf of the team when I say that their generosity helped fuel our productivity!”

Grant recipients were selected by a respected panel of university professors, inventors, entrepreneurs, industry professionals, and college students, including former InvenTeam members now working in the industry.

“We put an incredible amount of time and thought into the grant application, and to have it selected as one of eight schools nationwide makes it totally worth it,” says Arif. “I am looking forward to continuing the process of inventing a solution, which has been very rewarding so far. We started with three unrelated ideas this past summer and by early spring we'll start seeing an actual solution and that's an amazing thing to be a part of.”

Over the next eight months, the Cincinnati Country Day School InvenTeam will develop a solution to the problem.

“The InvenTeams are focusing on solving problems that impact their local communities," says Leigh Estabrooks, Lemelson-MIT’s invention education officer. “Teams are focusing their technological solutions – their inventions – on inequities in health and wellbeing, environmental issues, and safety concerns. These high school students are not just problem-solvers of tomorrow, they are problem solvers today helping to make our world more equitable, healthier, and safer.”

In early July, the Cincinnati Country Day School InvenTeam participated in brainstorming activities to identify a plethora of ideas with the goal of defining an invention space that could lead to solving an existing problem in the community. While meeting with community members and organizations, one of the school’s valued community members reached out to the team with a possible idea. Ashley Ward, recently retired assistant to the head of school, shared personal details about a bike accident in 2014 that took the life of Fred Carey, a much beloved English teacher, dean of students, parent, and alumnus. Carey was hit from behind by an intoxicated driver during a daytime bike ride.

The team will build a working prototype that will be showcased at a mid-grant technical review locally in February, and then again as a final prototype during EurekaFest®, an invention celebration taking place in June 2024, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“This is such an exciting time for alumni, parents, and community members to connect with the school. This recognition by LMIT shows the promise of our students and all they can accomplish," says Barber-Joiner. "With connected and engaged alums and community members who are doing this work, the possibilities for success are limitless. We have already been celebrated as one of only eight schools in the entire country; it’s an incredible validation of the hard work and commitment of our students. With the power of our whole community behind us, we’ll be unstoppable.”

Click here to watch a video that showcases the work the InvenTeam has done so far.

(Pictured left to right in the photo above: Jamie Back, Ashley Odom, Jason Starodub, Lucia Murdoch, Kate Kranias, Alex Back, Samantha Wu, Ayaan Arif, Kevin Pearson, Donovan Gray, Angela Barber-Joiner.)

Celebrating 20 Years of the High School InvenTeams Grant Initiative
The InvenTeams initiative, now in its 20th year, has enabled 17 teams of high school students to earn U.S. patents for their projects. Intellectual property education is combined with invention education offerings as part of the Lemelson-MIT Program’s deliberate efforts to remedy historic inequities among those who develop inventions, protect their intellectual property, and commercialize their creations. LMIT’s ongoing efforts empower students from all backgrounds, equipping them with invaluable problem-solving skills that will serve them well throughout their academic journeys, professional pursuits, and personal lives. LMIT has worked with 3,883 students across 296 different teams nationwide throughout the past 20 years.

About Cincinnati Country Day School
Cincinnati Country Day School (CCDS) is an independent, coeducational, college preparatory school founded in 1926. The school enrolls more than 860 students, 18 months to 18 years, from 65 zip codes throughout the Greater Cincinnati area. Located in the beautiful suburb of Indian Hill, students enjoy strong academics through hands-on learning, meaningful personal growth opportunities, enriching diversity initiatives, state-of-the-art technology, engaging arts, and competitive sports on the pastoral 60-acre campus. The school’s mission is to create leaders who, through the discovery of their own abilities, kindle the potential of others and better a dynamic world. For more information, visit

About the Lemelson-MIT Program
The Lemelson-MIT Program (LMIT) is a national leader in efforts to prepare the next generation of inventors and entrepreneurs. Our work focuses on the expansion of opportunities for people to learn ways inventors find and solve problems that matter to improve lives. Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion aims to remedy historic inequities among those who develop inventions, protect their intellectual property and commercialize their creations. Jerome H. Lemelson, one of U.S. history’s most prolific inventors, and his wife Dorothy founded the Lemelson-MIT Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994. It is funded by The Lemelson Foundation and administered by the School of Engineering at MIT, an institution with a strong ongoing commitment to creating meaningful opportunities for K-14 STEM education. For more information, visit