Middle-Schoolers Peer into the Future

At a recent virtual middle-school assembly, students in Dr. Luis Perez-Breva’s (Erin ‘23 & Owen ‘26) MIT iTeams course showcased their plans for widespread adoption of seven promising technologies. The initiative was spearheaded by sixth-grader Erin Breva who worked with the school and MIT students to organize the event and acted as master of ceremonies. Middle-schoolers knew they were seeing something special. Sixth-grader Hugh B. said, "I loved the iTeam presentation. It was so cool being able to understand what the future of everyday life is going to be!”
“Dad, can we share this with the middle school?” This fall, sixth-grader Erin Breva (VI-Humphrey) and her brother Owen (III-Wettach) have been assisting their father Dr. Luis Perez-Breva as honorary MIT Teaching Assistants as he teaches the online version of his MIT iTeams course. Cutting a unique path through the educational and innovation landscape and with a demonstrated track record of converting technology to impact, Luis’s MIT Innovation Teams Enterprise centers on solving problems that matter with technology as a tool. Students scale up technologies to address pressing problems, taking them from lab to market to societal impact.

At a recent virtual middle-school assembly, Luis’s students showcased their plans for widespread adoption of seven promising technologies. Over the hour, middle-schoolers learned about:
  • Flexible printable solar panels—electrical generation everywhere
  • New drug-delivery systems that taste like food—goodbye pills
  • Placing quantum computers in space to take advantage of the low temperature—instant communication and massive processing without huge energy consumption
  • Razor, scalpel, and skate blades that stay super sharp nearly forever—improve function and reduce waste
  • A game that lets people apply the iTeam approach to any problem—creative problem-solving in a box
  • Superior energy storage—new kinds of batteries to reduce fossil-fuel use and facilitate the development of Moon and Mars bases
  • Harnessing bacteria to use carbon dioxide to produce polymers—food, plastics, and medicines on a sustainable basis.
 
Students knew they were seeing something special. Sixth-grader Hugh B. said, "I loved the iTeam presentation. It was so cool being able to understand what the future of everyday life is going to be!" Fifth-grader Mena P. was impressed with how the iTeam approach could be turned into a game that could solve nearly any problem. "I liked how they are making the iTeam process available through multiplayer and Virtual Reality games.” 

Erin and Owen have been assisting their father this fall as honorary Teaching Assistants as he taught his class remotely. Erin suggested having the MIT iTeams present to the middle school. For nearly a hour, she facilitated the presentations and Q&A, and the Assembly became a joint MIT-Shady Hill class moderated by Erin herself.
 
“My aspiration,” Luis said, “is to help Shady Hill students think of technology as a fundamentally human endeavor that we use to solve pressing problems. We can teach anyone how to approach nature, science, and technology playfully and to be playgrounds for the imagination. Students can learn how to identify real needs, play with the possibilities inherent in a technology, and scale up to widespread adoption and impact. I want tinkering, innovating, and dabbling in nature and technology to be second-nature to them.”
 
Luis complimented the middle-schoolers on the quality and range of their questions. “Your questions,” Luis told them, “are very much like the ones I hear at MIT! Remember that by thinking creatively, you can use technology as a tool to solve important problems.”
 
Click here to view a photo essay of the iTeams assembly.
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    • Introduces iTeams

      iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      1 Dr. Luis Peres-Breva

      Introduces iTeams

    • iTeams is a virtual course this term.

      iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      2 iTeams Green Screen

      iTeams is a virtual course this term.

    • Need questions from middle-schoolers.

      iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      3 Students Job

      Need questions from middle-schoolers.

    • Erin facilitates presentations & moderates Q&A.

      iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      4. Introducing Erin

      Erin facilitates presentations & moderates Q&A

    • iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      5 Erin introduces herself

    • iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      The set-up for teaching iTeams virtually

    • Placing quantum computers in space to take advantage of the low temperature

      iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      6 Majorana Qubits

      Placing quantum computers in space to take advantage of the low temperature

    • Instant communication & massive processing without huge energy consumption

      iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      7 Majorana Quibts

      Instant communication & massive processing without huge energy consumption

    • A game that lets people apply the iTeam approach to any problem.

      iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      8 iTeams game

      A game that lets people apply the iTeam approach to any problem.

    • Creative problem-solving in a box

      iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      9 iTeams game process

      Creative problem-solving in a box

    • Mix & match the cards to spark discussion and brainstorm possible solutions.

      iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      10 iTeams game process

      Mix & match the cards to spark discussion and brainstorm possible solutions.

    • Razor

      iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      11 Razor Sharp

      Razor, scalpel, and knife blades that stay super sharp nearly forever.

    • iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      12. Shaving

    • Improve function and reduce waste.

      iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      13 Waste and pollution

      Improve function and reduce waste.

    • Testing the technology.

      iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      14 Razor Sharp lab at MIT

      Testing the technology.

    • Scaling up the technology.

      iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      15 Razor Sharp production

      Scaling up the technology.

    • Seven-year vision.

      iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      16 Razor Sharp rollout

      Seven-year vision.

    • Superior energy storage through improved electrolytes.

      iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      17 Emerald Power

      Superior energy storage through improved electrolytes.

    • New kinds of batteries to reduce fossil-fuel use and facilitate space travel.

      iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      18. Emerald Power on Mars

      New kinds of batteries to reduce fossil-fuel use and facilitate space travel.

    • Efficient

      iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      19 Emerals Power rollout

      Efficient, rechargeable, high-capacity batteries will revolutionize power production & consumption.

    • iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      20 Circe on Mars

      Taking food, building materials, and fuel to Mars is expensive.

    • iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      21 Circe products

      Circe uses the CO2 on Mars to make products on-site.

    • iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      22 Circe process

      Bacteria produse polymers that can be put to many uses.

    • iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      23 Circe on Mars

      Self-sustaining Martial colony.

    • Seven-year plan to perfect the process and explore possibilities.

      iTeams presents at MS Assemby

      24 Circe rollout

      Seven-year plan to perfect the process and explore possibilities.

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