Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

To ignite and nurture creative, ethical, scientific minds that advance the human condition.

IMSA® Team Wins Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam Grant for Invention Project

A student team from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy is one of only 16 high school teams nationwide, and the only one from Illinois, to receive a 2008-2009 Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant.    InvenTeams are teams of high school students, teachers and mentors that receive grants up to $10,000 each to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. This year’s InvenTeams were selected based on ingenuity and demonstrated potential in creative thinking.

 IMSA InvenTeams members
IMSA InvenTeams members work with a wooden mold created by Manny Hernandez, associate professor in the School of Art at Northern Illinois University, used for pressing experimental ceramic disc water filters.

IMSA’s successful proposal, a low-cost, durable water filtration system for developing countries, seeks to supply sanitary water to meet the household needs of a family in developing countries with minimal or no external power at a targeted annual cost of $20.00 or less.  The initial two-stage filter design has a pre-filter based upon existing pottery filtration methods and a novel second stage utilizing engineered materials and a mechanism to clean it in the field.

IMSA science faculty member and team sponsor Dr. Mark Carlson of Naperville said he is very proud of his team and the real-world learning opportunities it presents for IMSA students.

“The students came to me with this project because they have a sincere interest in helping the least advantaged people of the world,” Dr. Carlson said. “In the course of this project they have learned how to be creative and self-directed. The students have set goals, met deadlines and have worked collaboratively with their peers as well as faculty and staff members.”

The InvenTeam initiative, which ignites passion for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), is designed to excite high school students about invention through hands-on learning, while encouraging an inventive culture in schools and communities long-term (visit

IMSA President Dr. Max McGee said the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam initiative is the perfect example of how IMSA students can use their talents in STEM fields to make a positive, lasting contribution to our world.

“I am thrilled IMSA students have this unique opportunity to showcase their talents in immeasurable ways that go beyond a test score or grading rubric,” McGee said.  “By using their combined creativity, passion and talents, they are helping to advance the human condition in real ways by trying to provide a most basic human need to those in developing countries,” he added.

“These students represent a new generation of inventors,” says Leigh Estabrooks, the Lemelson-MIT Program’s invention education officer.  “They will use the tools they gain during their InvenTeam experience as inspiration for what we hope is a lifetime of inventive thinking and doing,” she said. 

In June, IMSA’s InvenTeam will showcase their water filtration prototype at EurekaFest, a multi-day celebration of the inventive spirit presented by the Lemelson-MIT Program at MIT in Cambridge, Mass. 

The internationally recognized Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy® (IMSA) develops creative, ethical leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  As a teaching and learning laboratory created by the State of Illinois, IMSA enrolls academically talented Illinois students (grades 10-12) in its advanced, residential college preparatory program, and it serves thousands of educators and students in Illinois and beyond through innovative instructional programs that foster imagination and inquiry. IMSA also advances education through research, groundbreaking ventures and strategic partnerships. (

About the Lemelson-MIT Program

The Lemelson-MIT Program recognizes outstanding inventors, encourages sustainable new solutions to real-world problems, and enables and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention.

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.  The Lemelson Foundation, which funds the program, is a private philanthropy that celebrates and supports inventors and entrepreneurs to strengthen social and economic life. 

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy InvenTeam Members

Student Name                        Hometown

Mark Meyer                            Algonquin

Sharada Dharmasankar             Aurora

Brian Flynn                             Bartlett

Saurin Shah                            Bloomington

Nichole Evans                         Bolingbrook

Arjun Nayini                            Burr Ridge

Anil Vaitla                              Chicago

Frederick Damen                     Chicago

Terence Zhao                        Chicago

Jonathan Czerwonka               Crystal Lake

Michael Gleeson                      Downers Grove

Anthony Carusiello                   Lemont

Melissa Tao                            Lisle

Ray Gu                                  Long Grove

Bob Lee                                 Naperville

Eric Lin                                  Naperville

Eric Shyu                               Naperville

Grant Skudlarek                      Oak Park

Justina Cho                            Orland Park

Alexander Drummond                Quincy

Anne Pipathsouk                     Rockford

Solomon Nittala                      Roselle

Luis Carbajal                          Shorewood

Jennifer Roderick                    Taylor Ridge

Julian Moore                          West Dundee

Nathaniel Simpson                  Winslow