FAIRLY, WEST VIRGINIA (WVNS) — Every once in a while, high school students capture the attention of the media, county officials, and even state senators for their accomplishments. For our region, such students of Greenbrier East High School’s InvenTeams have done just that, and more.

The InvenTeams club, lead by teacher and mentor Kevin Warfield, are working hard to bring a caver tracking system to life. Just a mere idea a few months ago, these students have broken into groups to develop, design, make, code, and fund a potentially life saving device. These students were touched by stories of lost cavers and miners in our state and wanted to make a difference.

Their idea caught the attention of the folks at Lemelson MIT who awarded just 8 school across the nation with $10,000 grants. One of the 8 schools was our own Greenbrier East High School and the students of InvenTeams. Armed with cash, the Greenbrier East students idea went from the drawing board to the 3D printer.

The Digital Junction Tracker, or DJT’s, acts like a trail of electronic breadcrumbs cavers use while exploring wild caves. If the caver becomes trapped, lost, or injured, with a push of a button a distress signal is relayed across the small devices to an outside receiver. From here, rescuers can pinpoint the distressed caver instead of hours long searches. Time, in many cases, is the real enemy of those in need of medical attention. This device hopes to eliminate the search in search and rescue.

At a presentation Wednesday, these students were tasked with providing an update to Lemelson MIT. Members of the community and school administrators were in attendance as students talked about the need of their device, how they made it, their data from field tests, and what improvements are still needed. An impressive device reveal presentation already before remembering these are teenagers in high school.

After the presentation, students broke off into their groups and made themselves available to the community to ask questions about each step of the project. This made it very apparent this was much bigger than just an after school project but a full fledge product development team.

On the Administrative Team, Evan Vaughan and Jake McGilvray spoke of the teams accomplishments with pride simply beaming from their faces. The pair spoke of their time on the floor of the West Virginia senate and how excited they are to bring this product to life. The leaders of their groups public relations.

Administrative Group Jake McGilvray and Evan Vaughan

On the Sustainability Team, Ian Hamilton and Evan Vogerlsong are tasked with researching and testing battery life and environmental impacts of their device. They also worked towards the Solidworks Sustainability Certification.

The Research Team with Kendra Culyer and Abby Warfield were tasked with exactly that, research. In keeping with the Scientific Method, this team is charged in making sure the group stays within the realm of scientific study. More impressive is their CITI certification in research methods.

On the Tech Team or Coding Team, Gabe Coleman, Cole Snyder, Kendra Culyer, and Abby Warfield are tasked with implementing a developed code the DJTs use to work.

On the Communication Team, Delaney Hamerick, Olivia Warfield, and Amber Conley run an impressive social media campaign to keep fellow students, school staff, and the community at large informed of the groups progress.

Communication Team Amber Conley

On the Fabrication Team, Sam Totten, Cam Little, Nate Smith, Gabe Dowdy, and Ian Morrison use the teams 3D printers to take make the DJTs. First creating a 3D model on a computer then printing the device. From there the team finds way to make the device smaller, use less material, and make the DJT functional and cost effective.

Fabrication Team Sam Totten, Cam Little, Nate Smith, Gabe Dowdy,

On the Safety Team, Ian Morrison is tasked with creating a safety plan and implementing that plan. Reminding his team of the dangers items in the lab have. Broken glass, electrical hazards, and cave exploration risks.

Safety Team Ian Morrison

On the Financial Team, Neveah Wooding keeps track of the teams spending which she had on display at the presentation. Spreadsheets and graphs show where the teams grant money has gone. Wooding is also the key in the groups hopes of going to their upcoming national convention trip to Cambridge. Reaching out to local businesses like City National Bank for donations to cover the groups $25,000 travel costs. So far the group has raised just over $5,000.

Financial Team Neveah Wooding

What sounds more like a corporate boardroom line up, these students are coming together for an idea they believe in. Truly learning life skills while having fun along the way. The group hopes to finish their project and eventually paten their idea and design.

It is no wonder their teacher and mentor Kevin Warfield is so touched by his students. At the event he could be heard talking to students parents about how proud he is of their kids. In his emotional speech at the event, Warfield went on to say:

“I can not say enough good things about them. They are a team. They have the inside jokes. They look out for each other. They take care of each other. They tell me to get out of the way when I’m medaling. It is just an awesome experience.”

Kevin Warfield – InvenTeams Instructor / Greenbrier East High School Teacher

For now, the team is preparing for a couple of live wild cave tests of their device. They will use caves in Greenbrier County like Lost Worlds Caverns and others for the tests. Once complete the group will present their final device, research, and findings to the National Lemelson MIT convention in Cambridge, Massachusetts this summer.

The team is still looking for $20,000 for their travel fund. If you’d like to help the InvenTeams reach their goal of presenting at this conference, this inspirational group of students has a way to do just that with a QR code directing businesses and community members to their GoFundMe account. Simply use your phones camera to scan the code.

Follow along with this group’s social media pages on:
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Greenbrier East High School InvenTeam GoFundMe Account