Sturgis InvenTeam Designs Marine Mammal Rescue Transporter


Sturgis West 2012-13 InvenTeam
(L-R): Eric Hillebrand, Lead History Teacher – Sturgis West; Sarah Correia (Class of 2015), Jack Perry (Class of 2015),
Paul Fucile, Senior Engineer – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Ryley Newton (Class of 2015),
Josh Hassler (Class of 2015) and Dominic Fucile (Class of 2015)

InvenTeam PosterSturgis West is one of sixteen high schools nationwide selected as a 2012-13 Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam. InvenTeams are teams of high school students, teachers and mentors that receive grants of up to $10,000 each to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. Sturgis West InvenTeam received a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam  grant for $10,000 to invent an improved transporter cart for marine mammal rescues.

Sarah Correia (Class of 2015) said, “It really is an honor to be chosen out of all the teams that applied! Only 16 were chosen out of the whole country, and it’s amazing to have this opportunity.”

Paul Fucile, Senior Engineer, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Eric Hillebrand, Lead Teacher of History at Sturgis West initiated the InvenTeam application process last spring and attended training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to help prepare the final proposal.  A prestigious panel of judges composed of educators, researchers, staff and alumni from MIT, as well as representatives from the industry and former Lemelson-MIT Award winners, assembled this fall and selected Sturgis West as one of sixteen 2012-13 InvenTeam grantees.

The Sturgis West Marine Mammal Rescue Transporter will be used for moving stranded dolphins, small whales, or seals at low tide beach locations to waiting vehicles by members of the International Fund for Animal Welfare on Cape Cod. The trauma reducing sling lift with integrated weighing system, improved steering, and quick disassembly features will provide a lower cost and lower weight solution to the bulky cart presently used. The transporter will be constructed using lightweight aluminum tubing, beach wheels, a hand crank, and a custom made dolphin sling.

 Front row:  Hannah Durette of Sandwich, Sarah Correia of Bourne, Dominic Fucile of FalmouthBack row:  Ryley Newton of Hyannis, Jack Perry of Brewster, Josh Hassler of Sandwich

Front row: Hannah Durette of Sandwich, Sarah Correia of Bourne, Dominic Fucile of Falmouth
Back row: Ryley Newton of Hyannis, Jack Perry of Brewster, Josh Hassler of Sandwich

The Sturgis InvenTeam will work with mentor Paul Fucile of WHOI who will guide the students through the development of their invention.  Michael Moore, WHOI Senior Research Specialist commented “I am delighted to see this grant from MIT to Sturgis. An integral weigh scale in an easily stowed dolphin cart will expedite the triage and care of live stranded dolphins. Engaging the students from Sturgis in this real need is an excellent experience for them.”

The team will also collaborate with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). Charles Harry, IFAW Marine Biologist said, “This is such great news for all parties and I congratulate Sturgis on their award.  I echo Dr. Moore’s comments and from an IFAW standpoint, we are all very excited about the possibilities of how this new dolphin cart design will aid in our rescue efforts and potentially increase our successful release rate of stranded dolphins back to the wild.”

InvenTeam Adds New Members

InvenTeam is now officially “Sturgis InvenTeam” with the addition of 3 students from East.  New team members added this fall are Adam Bennani, Class of 2014 – East; Molly Brennan, Class of 2014 – East; Jacob Hempel, Class of 2015 – West; and Haley Meaden, Class of 2014 – East. The two schools’ young engineers are collaborating right now on the full scale prototype of their marine mammal transport. Work takes place Wednesdays after school in the fully-equipped team shop in the basement at West.

Follow the Progress of Sturgis West InvenTeam on Their New Blog

To follow the progress of Sturgis West InvenTeam, go to:

Over the next nine months, the Sturgis West InvenTeam will develop its Marine Mammal Rescue Transporter. In June, the students will showcase a prototype of their invention at EurekaFest at MIT in Cambridge, Mass. EurekaFest, presented by the Lemelson-MIT Program, is a multi-day celebration designed to empower a legacy of inventors through activities that inspire youth, honor role models and encourage creativity and problem solving.

Dan McReady 0f  WQRC radio Interviews Sturgis West InvenTeam for Cape Cod Broadcasting’s Sunday Journal 11/25/2012

Sarah Correia, Ryley Newton, and Jack Perry  talk with Dan McReady about their Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam Grant and animal saving invention. For those who missed the radio interview when it aired, Cape Cod Broadcasting has created a podcast. Go to: 
The interview is listed under the following title:   “Sturgis’ MIT award – Sunday Journal 11/25/2012”

Lemelson-MIT Program

Leigh Estabrooks, invention education officer from the Lemelson-MIT Program said “The InvenTeams program represents the future. Our primary goal is to foster high school students’ passion for invention, in turn inspiring them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering or math.” The Lemelson-MIT Program celebrates outstanding innovators and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention.  For more information, see:

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