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.