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16-Year-Old Inventor Demonstrates Prototype Water Bike, Speaks to Physically-Challenged Students.

- Winner of Lemelson-MIT High School Apprenticeship

Overcomes Her Own Physical Challenge -

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Krysta Morlan, a 16-year-old Californian inventor and winner of the first Lemelson-MIT High School Invention Apprenticeship, demonstrated today her newest invention -- a prototype water bicycle that has both therapeutic and recreational uses -- during a lecture to middle and high school students with physical disabilities at the MIT Museum.

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The Lemelson-MIT Program selected Morlan for developing a battery-operated "cast cooler" to provide relief for those saddled with casts during the hot summer months. Morlan thought up the idea while she was confined to a full-leg cast for nearly a year, after undergoing surgery related to diplegic cerebral palsy.

Morlan unveiled the prototype water bike and exhibited her winning cast cooler during her presentation to the local students, who were visiting from Partners for Youth with Disabilities, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing the full potential of children and adolescents with disabilities. She encouraged her peers and other students nationwide to follow her example and pursue opportunities such as the Lemelson-MIT High School Invention Apprenticeship.

A rising 11th grader attending Vacaville High School, Morlan views the apprenticeship as an opportunity to put her creativity to practice. "Everyone has ideas," says Morlan. "It's just a matter of having a chance to act on them. The apprenticeship is exactly that -- and it's been really fun. Getting the bike to work in the water the way we designed it was really exciting."

Administered by MIT, The Lemelson-MIT High School Invention Apprenticeship is an annual award given to a high school student (9th-12th grade) for inventiveness. The apprenticeship is designed to provide hands-on experience in a scientific and technological environment. The winning student is paired with an "invention mentor," who is a leading scientist, technologist or entrepreneur.

Morlan's invention mentor is Colin Twitchell, director of the Lemelson Assistive Technology Development Center (LATDC) at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, and founder of Ergosport, a company that produces adaptive technologies for recreational and sporting equipment.

Last week, Morlan arrived at the LATDC to work with Twitchell to assemble the prototype water bicycle. Twitchell is impressed with Krysta's fortitude and believes she has many characteristics of a good inventor. "Inventing is 90 percent perspiration and 10 percent inspiration. The most important ingredients are enthusiasm and interest -- and Krysta has plenty of both."

Morlan's demonstration was also attended by teachers interested in learning more about the design process from the perspective of a high-school student. The teachers' presence was vital, according to Lemelson-MIT Program director Annemarie Amparo: "By convincing teachers to apply -- not just teach -- knowledge in the classroom, we can provide students with hands-on invention experience. Encouraging ingenuity is key to students' educational growth."

Administered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Lemelson-MIT Program was established in 1994 by the late independent inventor Jerome H. Lemelson and his wife Dorothy. The program celebrates the nation's most talented inventors/innovators and presents living role models in the fields of science, engineering, medicine and entrepreneurship in the hope of encouraging future generations to follow their examples.

For more information about the Lemelson-MIT Program and application materials for the 1999-2000 High School Invention Apprenticeship, contact Annemarie Amparo, 617-253-3352 or visit
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 20, 1999
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