Improving lives through invention

Mentorship in STEM and Invention Education

These ten educators are empowering teachers and the rising generation of inventors and innovators.

This National Mentoring Month, The Lemelson Foundation is shining a spotlight on  longtime grantee and partner the Lemelson-MIT Program (LMIT) to focus on the power of mentorship in STEM and Invention Education.  

For the past twenty years, LMIT has conducted the InvenTeams® Grant initiative, providing financial grants and support to teams of high school students and their teachers for a year-long invention project that creates a technological solution to a problem they’ve found in their own community.

For the 2023-24 InvenTeams cycle, LMIT has named 10 Invention Education Fellows, teacher-leaders who mentor these teams as they develop innovative solutions to these local challenges that have wider impact and the potential to improve lives and our environment. 

“Mentors are much more than just technical advisors,” says Leigh Estabrooks, EdD, LMIT’s Invention Education Officer. “Rather, they are the cheerleaders and confidantes that help student inventors find their way forward when the path is difficult to see and obstacles seem insurmountable. They share their experiences and offer unwavering encouragement.”

Read below about these inspiring mentors and the unique mix of passion and experience each one brings to supporting students in their STEM and invention journeys.

Kirstin Bullington

Kirstin, a patented inventor, has taught science and engineering for twenty years and is driven by a passion for both global health and sustainable energy. Her approach to teaching STEM draws on insights from her previous career as an international health specialist Peace Corps volunteer and her time spent teaching abroad. She teaches climate and energy solutions at the Richland Two Institute of Innovation (R2i2) in Columbia, South Carolina. 

She was most recently named the 2022 South Carolina STEM Educator of the Year, and her students and their inventions have been recognized at national STEM competitions. Her 2018-2019 InvenTeam was issued a U.S. patent. 
She is an Invention Education Fellow for the Chattahoochee High School InvenTeam in Georgia, which is developing a filter for harmful emissions from residential gas cooking stoves, and the EMUiNVENT InvenTeams, which is working on a device to help increase mobility for older community members.


Mike Carter

Mike Carter has extensive design and engineering experience across industries – from electric motor vehicles and solar power systems to motion picture technology and consumer products. This diverse background allows him to bring a multifaceted perspective to his role as an educator and administrator. He is the Engineering and Design Coordinator at the Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles, California, and has served as their InvenTeams Fellow in years prior. 

He was the InvenTeam Fellow for the 2022-2023 Sylmar Biotech Health and Engineering Magnet High School InvenTeam in California, which developed a device for showers that will reduce waste water and household energy usage.


Robin Jones

Robin Jones, a patented inventor, brings an MBA and a career in banking to her teaching, where she focuses on collaborative and authentic projects to expand students’ learning and teamwork skills, as well as building equity in the classroom. She is a computer programming and finance teacher at the Richland Two Institute of Innovation (R2i2) in Columbia, South Carolina, and has been awarded numerous state and regional accolades for her work as a computer educator, most recently from the Computer Science Teacher Association and the National Center for Women & Information Technology. Her 2018-2019 InvenTeam was issued a U.S. patent. 

This year Robin is the Invention Education Fellow for both the Chattahoochee High School and EMUiNVENT InvenTeams in Michigan.


Chelle Myrann

Chelle Myrann, a patented inventor, draws upon her 20 years of experience as a physics, math, and physical science teacher in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as coaching a robotics program, to develop a four-year STEM program at her school. Her 2010 InvenTeam was invited to the first White House Science Fair, and was issued a U.S. patent for their physical therapy chair for fragile youth.

Chelle is currently working with the Calistoga Junior/Senior High School InvenTeam in California, which is creating a device for firefighters to remain cool when combating destructive fires in heavy protective gear and equipment.


Doug Scott

Doug Scott, a patented inventor, is a strong advocate for gender inclusion in STEM. He has two decades of experience in robotics, engineering, and technology education, teaching at Natick High School and Hopkinton High School in Massachusetts. He has reached even more students with Invention Education through his work with the InventEd network, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and Lemelson-MIT. He won the 2014 Massachusetts STEM Teacher of the Year Award and served on the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and Computer Science and Engineering Subcommittee. His 2014 InvenTeam attended the White House Science Fair and was issued a patent for their remotely operated vehicle for ice search and rescue operations. Additionally, Mr. Scott was awarded the 2019 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. 

This year he will mentor the Amherst Regional High School InvenTeam in Massachusetts, which is exploring technological solutions for Search and Rescue personnel to be more safe and efficient during disaster recovery work.


Rachel Thibault

Rachel Thibault, a patented inventor, first became involved in invention after her students asked her to be their InvenTeam mentor, and went on to lead three InvenTeams. After experiencing the power of invention, she became an advocate for Invention Education in her school and community. She teaches AP psychology and anatomy at SOAR Early College High School in Lancaster, California. Two of her InvenTeams were issued U.S. patents. 

She is working with the e3 Civic High InvenTeam in California, an all-female team aiming to make nightlife and social settings safer for everyone by creating a product that can detect the presence of harmful drugs or substances in drinks.


Katrina Hull

Katrina Hull is driven by a deep passion to help all students succeed and to give students opportunities to connect with relatable role models. She taught mathematics and engineering for more than a decade, most recently at McKay High School in Salem, Oregon. Katrina’s high school students competed in various collegiate-level invention competitions, including Portland State University’s Cleantech Challenge, Beta Project, and InventOR. She has participated in Invention Education research with MIT and the University of Central Florida.

She is mentoring the Cincinnati Country Day School InvenTeam in Ohio with their plans to design a road safety device for bikers and drivers.


Paul Fucile

Paul Fucile brings his professional experience as an engineer in oceanography and his interest in astronomy and space to his invention and robotics mentoring — as well as his own experience as an inventor with seven patents. He coached the Wallenpaupack, Pennsylvania InvenTeam, which attended the 2015 White House Science Fair with their wave-powered electric generator, and mentored the Northeast High School, Florida InvenTeam that received a U.S. patent for their mosquito agitation device.

He is working with the Incline High School InvenTeam in Nevada, which is developing a device to alert homeowners of roof failure during severe winter weather.


Michael Gallagher

Michael Gallagher has been an active advocate for Invention Education in Saratoga Springs, New York, helping expand the popular Educating Young Engineers (EYE) Saturday program for local elementary school students, and also facilitating the Saratoga Inventors Club. He has been teaching technology education for over 16 years in the Saratoga Springs City School District, and also serves as a department chairperson. He has been mentoring students in InvenTeams for more than a decade. 

This year he is guiding the Cold Spring Harbor Junior/Senior High School in New York with their public health-related project to create an eco-friendly solution to reduce the high rate of ticks and related diseases in their area.


Ed Hernandez

Ed Hernandez pivoted to teaching after a career as a technical engineer. He combines his experience in electrical and computer engineering with his drive for educating, resulting in a practice that draws from his own experiences and meaningfully engages students.  

He showcases his passion for Invention Education – and is able to guide students through their STEM journey – as Lead Teacher and Director of Tustin High School’s T-Tech Academy of Technology and Engineering in Tustin, California, and as a certified instructor for Project Lead the Way. He was named Orange County High Impact Teacher of the Year in 2014.

He is mentoring the Cincinnati Country Day School InvenTeam in Ohio with their plans to design a road safety device for bikers and drivers.


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