A student’s worth and capabilities are not determined by where they come from. Anyone with drive, strengths, and a willingness to learn, can do very big and important things. Dayton’s InvenTeam students celebrated that truth during Eurekafest 2018.

Last year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) held its annual Eurekafest. Hundreds of teams from high schools all over the US applied to be selected as an InvenTeam, to showcase their innovative creations to an impressive audience at MIT. This audience included inventors, as well as highly renowned educators. Dayton High School was one of the 15 schools accepted.

The team!

During the eight-month construction period before Dayton’s Inventeam flew out to Massachusetts, they built and programmed a self-automated electronic chicken coop. The team was made up of fourteen bright students, all with individual skill sets that proved to be crucial for the project. It was these multiple skills, both social and technical, that helped them produce such an impressive final project.

Dayton’s InvenTeam was extremely dedicated to their project. They met during tutorials at the end of their school days and spent many late nights in the i3 Center. Further, many students picked up jobs and collected donations to help pay the traveling and living expenses. There were times when the team had to balance work, school, and their Eurekafest project. Though it was difficult, the team conquered each roadblock together and made it work.

When the team arrived in Massachusetts, they began preparing to showcase their chicken coop.

Catie Jacks organized Dayton’s presentation and was in charge of the visual displays. Remembering Dayton’s arrival at MIT, she said that she was very nervous to present because the team had no script. However, despite her doubts, the energy of Dayton’s InvenTeam was magnetic. Curious members of the crowd at Eurekafest surrounded the team during the presentations. They were honest and sincere, making them so much more interactive with their audience. Catie witnessed the group’s integrity and suddenly felt more at ease.

She realized that Dayton’s authenticity was a big part of what made them so special. To see this authenticity, she found that it was important that they were allowed to present without a prepared script.

Catie and the chicken

Dayton was unique in many ways. Catie Jacks says: “We stuck out like a sore thumb.” She explained that many of the other InvenTeams were from high-end schools with specialized engineering programs and bigger budgets. At first, it was intimidating. Dayton was easily the smallest school there, as well as one of the only public schools participating. However, it was clear that Dayton’s team had a more diverse variety of students than the other schools. Some were programmers who loved technology, some were builders that lead the construction of the coop, and some were bonafide chicken experts. Being so varied was something that gave the Dayton team a powerful voice; a voice that their audience wanted to hear.

“I have become way more confident about where I come from.” Catie says, after explaining how her team shined so brightly amongst the others.

Noah White contributed to the project as a builder. In a reflection, he says “We had to prove ourselves.” He stated that the team wanted to show MIT that they weren’t just some small school with a mediocre idea. Dayton’s InvenTeam had a firm grasp on what they were capable of as a team representing their community. Dayton stood alongside InvenTeams from schools with some of the most elite education programs in America. Despite this, they found that they deserved, perhaps even belonged, to be at Eurekafest with the best and the brightest.

In the end, Dayton’s InvenTeam gained tremendously valuable experiences from their participation in Eurekafest 2018. They built on their skills, worked through problems, grew closer together, and orchestrated an excellent project that captured their audience.

Dayton’s students are continuing to prove themselves as valuable creators both inside and outside of school. In doing so, they are a strong piece in the development of Dayton’s innovation culture.

Bevin Schrag Administrator

Bevin Schrag is a writer for Innovate Oregon. While working in social media and marketing at OnlineNW, she is currently studying the arts at Chemeketa Community College, to later become a media designer.