You can use ‘geeks’ or ‘nerds’ to describe members of the St. Ursula Academy STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) team. They won’t mind — they’re too busy solving real-life problems and winning awards.
The Club members have earned a $6,000 grant from the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams program, which is designed to encourage teams of high school students to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. The six girls on the SUA squad decided to use technology to make a better pill dispenser, and will spend the school year perfecting their invention. “We’re one of the only teams in the Midwest to have gotten it,” says Beth Ann Less, a senior at St. Ursula Academy. “We prepared for months over the summer, so when we got it we were ecstatic.” The device allows patients to program times for dispensing their medicine from pill bottles of any size, an idea they developed in consultation with patients at the Sunset House Retirement Center, located across from the school on Indian Road. They are working with UT professors and health care experts from Omnicare in Perrysburg to hone their invention for presentation at the Eureka Fair, the multi-day celebration of the inventive spirit at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts in June 2013.
Sixteen schools are participating in the program, three of which are all-girl schools, a nod to the organizers’ wish to encourage more women to pursue careers in these areas. “According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, fewer than 25% of workers in STEM-related careers are women,” says St. Ursula Academy teacher and STEM Club moderator Jackie Kane. “This program encourages our girls to consider those careers.” —CH