Identifying the 21st Century Worker

This year's round of the prestigious InvenTeams grants are signed, sealed, and delivered and the list of funded projects provides some insight into what today's students in the Great Lakes region want to be when they grow up. These kids aren't aiming for the traditional job on the assembly line. They're developing break-through technologies, advancing energy innovation, and striving to build a cleaner, greener society.

InvenTeams is a national grant program sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology designed to rekindle excitement about math, science, engineering, and entrepreneurship, and inventing among the nation's high schoolers. The initiative awards as much as $10,000 to teams of students at high schools across the country to "identify a real-world problem and invent a practical solution to it."

Five of this year's 16 awards went to schools in the greater Great Lakes. And sure there's a team in Chicago working to perfect a high-tech pancake maker. But there's also the team at Farmington Hills Harrison in Michigan developing a device to improve water quality monitoring in rivers and lakes.

The students at Great River School in St. Paul, MN are honing more modern equipment to test wind speeds and determine the optimal location for energy-generating turbines.

And the kids at St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights, MN are inventing an ultra safe electric motorcycle that can travel 40 miles per charge, according to a report on

"It's not just a nerdy team activity," one student told reporter Bao Ong. "People respect it."

Photo courtesy of InvenTeams.