Help Mckay High School's INVENTEAM present at MIT

UPDATE 5/20/19:
We are very blessed to have some very generous donors who made contributions directly to the school! In order to reflect our current fundraising status, we have lowered the fundraising amount in this campaign. The goal now shows the amount we still need to raise. Thanks again to all the wonderful donors that are making this happen!

Lee este documento en español aquí. 

Welcome to our campaign!
Thank you so much for stopping by to check out our campaign! In partnership with the McKay Athletic Booster Club, we’re raising money for the Mckay High School Inventeam to go to MIT and present personalized adaptive cup solution this June.

With GoFundMe’s platform, every dollar you donate comes directly to us whether or not we reach our campaign goal. Every little bit helps! Every dollar raised will take our 15 person team to MIT’s campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts to present at EurekaFest alongside 14 of the best High Schools in the nation. Thank you so much for considering us. It truly means the world. Learn more about what we’re doing at our website .

What is an InvenTeam?
The Lemelson Foundation in partnership with MIT , has the shared goal of Inspiring a new generation of inventors. They fund the Lemelson-MIT Prize  which is a $500,000 prize that recognizes individuals who translate their ideas into inventions that improve the world in which we live. They also created Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams™ which are comprised of high school students, educators, and mentors that receive up to $10,000 each to invent technological solutions to real-world problems of their own choosing.

Check us out on the Lemelson-MIT website.

Last year, our McKay High School team was selected to become an InvenTeam and awarded a grant of up to $10,000 to develop an adaptive cup to help those suffering from dysphagia, a condition that makes swallowing difficult or impossible. The funds from our grant have allowed us to buy equipment and materials for developing our prototype, but cannot be used for travel to MIT. That’s why we need your help!

What is Dysphagia?
According to the Mayo Clinic,  “Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) means it takes more time and effort to move food or liquid from your mouth to your stomach. Dysphagia may also be associated with pain. In some cases, swallowing may be impossible.”

Dysphagia is often caused by neurological disorders or damage. Certain disorders — such as multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson's disease, or sudden neurological damage, such as from a stroke or brain or spinal cord injury can cause dysphagia. Certain cancers and some cancer treatments, such as radiation, can also cause difficulty swallowing.

This can lead to malnutrition, weight loss and dehydration since dysphagia can make it difficult to take in adequate nourishment and fluids. Aspiration pneumonia is also a major complication since food or liquid entering your airway when you try to swallow can cause aspiration pneumonia, since the food can introduce bacteria to the lungs. People with dysphagia can lose feeling or control of esophageal muscles, choking is often experienced and presents a serious threat. Estimates suggest that close to 22% of adults  suffer from dysphagia. According the the Census Bureau, there are 247 million adults living in the US. That means there are 54 million people struggling with this issue.

How does our prototype solve this problem?
Our goal is to invent a fully integrated and responsive adaptive cup designed with both the patient and therapist in mind. The adaptive cup’s design will resemble a cup for adults, making the patient much more comfortable with its design, while giving the therapist access to tools to regulate the flow of liquid for each individual patient and their specific needs.

Our idea uses an electronically controlled ball valve to give the therapist and patient precise adjustment controls. Incorporating a wireless charging base allows our cup to be dishwasher safe. Regulating liquid through a cup electronically is unique and will allow therapists to give each patient better personalized healthcare.

As our project has developed, we’ve realized that there are unique challenges to incorporating electronics in a cup like this. In fact, a mechanical solution may be more viable solution. So we are developing a novel mechanically adjusted cup in tandem with our electronic design.

(Above)Drawing we submitted as part of our application. (Below) Mockup from a pitch we made at Portland State University.

What is Mckay High School like?
McKay High School is located in Salem Oregon. Mckay has over 2,300 students in a building built for 1,800. There are 28 different languages spoken at McKay. Over 95% of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch. Despite many challenges, McKay is full of life and personality! Our culinary, construction, agriculture, and mechanics training programs are flourishing. In our business program students run a bank branch inside the school. Our AVID program and Pacific Islander Club are helping 1st generation students get to college in growing numbers. Oregon is 48th in the nation for graduation rates, and McKay is changing the math for the students we serve, but we have a long way to go!

Extracurricular activities, like our InvenTeam, give our students access to opportunities that didn’t exist for them before. Our students are succeeding on a national stage, getting invited to Ivy League schools, and learning that it’s possible for them to become inventors, scientists, doctors, and engineers. With your help, we keep up the momentum and build something that changes the world.

How did all of this start?
In 2016, some of our students competed in MESA Oregon’s demo day at ZIBA Design in Portland. We took second place in that competition against other high school teams, but happened next was truly unexpected. One of the judges that day runs Portland State University’s Cleantech Challenge. He invited the teams there to apply to the program and compete against university teams.

Our students, with a little encouragement, decided to apply. They pitched an idea to recycle plastic trash from school lunch rooms and turn it into 3D printer filament. Much to everyone’s surprise, especially PSU’s, they were accepted into the competition! They received $2,500 to develop their idea in 3 months. A few months later… We took first place in the Cleantech Challenge  over undergraduate, graduate, and professional teams. Our McKay High School team then went on to represent PSU in a statewide invention competition and took second place. The students won a little over $30,000 that year, and a school that doesn’t win often much found out that invention was their jam.

(Above) Sorting lunchroom trash to grind into filament. (Below) Our students presenting to hundreds during InventOR at OMSI.


(Above) Students winning $10,000 at InventOR. (Below) Our students dominating at the Cleantech Challenge.


(Above) New students excited about invention!  (Below) Our students celebrate the team’s win during homecoming.

Later that year, another group of students decided it was their turn. They decided to take an idea they were already working on in our engineering club and pitch it to Lemelson-MIT… and here we are.

How will the money we raise be used?
We’re raising $30,000 to get our team to EurekaFest on MIT’s campus in Boston, MA, June of this year. EurekaFest is a showcase of the best student invention teams from across the country. This money will mostly go to cover transportation, fees for the event, and lodging.

Our largest line item is transportation. We’re on the other side of the country, so air travel is our biggest expense at around $9,600 just to get there and back. With the addition of baggage fees, shuttles, and transit passes in Boston, we expect transportation to cost around $12,000 total for the trip.

Since our team is larger than most, we need to cover additional fees for our team to stay on MIT’s campus. We expect this to be close to $4,000 and it goes to cover our food and lodging while we are at the event.

For many of our students, this is their first time being more than an hour from home. We’re hoping to extend our stay in Boston to visit the many universities and historical sites in the area. These additional days in boston require us to find our own lodging, and we expect that to cost around $6,000.

The rest of our budget will go towards food for the team while we are traveling, and not on MIT’s campus. This should cost around $4,000. We plan on doing as many city museums/tours as our time allows. We’ve packed in everything we could while trying to keep our costs down. We expect these extracurriculars to cost around $3,900.  

That brings the total for our trip to almost $30,000. Interested in how we arrived at these numbers? Check out our planned itinerary here. 


Are there any other ways I can help?

You bet! The easiest way to help is sharing this campaign with your friends and family. That helps us extend our reach and bring us closer to our financial goals.

We’re also looking for mentors to help us further develop our ideas. So if you’re willing to donate some time to help us 3D model or write some code, please get in touch!

We always need more connections with therapists and community members who would be willing to provide some feedback on our design. We’re using an iterative design process and we would like to incorporate as much feedback as possible.

Can I contribute directly to McKay High School?
Of course! We’re not able to process credit/debit card transactions directly, but you can make a check payable directly to McKay High School with McKay’s InvenTeam in the memo line. Send to:

ATTN: Anna Camacho
McKay High School InvenTeam
2440 Lancaster Dr NE
Salem, OR 97305

So Many Thanks!!!
McKay Athletic Booster Club: Without their support, we would not be able to raise funds on an online platform. With their help, we greatly increased our reach and we cannot thank them enough for making this partnership possible. If you’re in the McKay community, you should donate some time and $$ to help them out. They deserve it! Read more here. 

Lemelson-MIT: A major thank you goes to the Lemelson-MIT program for their willingness to support our team solving this problem, specifically Tony Perry and Leigh Estabrooks for flying from Massachusetts to Salem, Oregon to congratulate our team.

Rob Schoepper - Principal, McKay High School: Thanks for being our constant supporter. Without you paving the way and letting us dream big, we never would have made it this far.

Don Domes - Our mentor! Thanks for all the suggestions and direction. We wouldn’t be here without your advice and leadership.

Jeff Gaus - YEBW Chairman of the Board: a special thanks first to Jeff Gaus and YEBW for connecting us to Daniel Canchola.

Daniel Canchola - Occupational Therapist: Daniel brought this adaptive cup problem to our attention and encouraged us to take on a real world problem!

Thank you to those individuals who came to meet our team in person and share their wisdom:

Carol Schaeffer - Speech Therapist: Carol taught us how important swallowing is to life and what it takes to swallow properly from a physiological perspective.

Dr. Martin S. Altschul - Pediatrician, Kaiser Permanente: Helped us to confirm that giving the patient autonomy was a priority and offered great feedback on our designs.

Larry Ramirez - Director of High School Education: Thanks for coming in to give us feedback on the way we talked about our work!

Chau Doan - Firmware Engineer: You’re the only firmware engineer we know that is also a machinist, expert 3D modeler, and can make us all laugh. Thanks so much for all the help!

Giando Sigurani - Technical Writer and 3D Enthusiast: Thanks for all your 3D modeling help and your willingness to spend your weekend back at High School working on projects.

Thank you to our McKay family for all the support asking us about our progress. We know there are so many people we are not naming, you know who you are, thank you for the time you have invested in us.

And we can’t forget our parents! Moms and dads thank you for transporting us to and from school at crazy hours, sending food to school so we could have team snack time, and always encouraging us to be the best!

Most of all! Thanks to you for supporting us. None of this would be possible without your direct support. We owe you one!

Donations ()

  • Anne Marie & Jim Charnholm 
    • $100 
    • 8 mos
  • Mary Kaminski  
    • $50 
    • 8 mos
  • Vickie Pursell 
    • $200 
    • 9 mos
  • Peter Meuleveld 
    • $200 
    • 10 mos
  • Lynn Baker 
    • $50 
    • 11 mos
See all


Katrina Hull 
Salem, OR
McKay Athletic Booster Club 
Registered nonprofit
Donations are 100% tax deductible.
Learn more
  • #1 fundraising platform

    People have raised more money on GoFundMe than anywhere else. Learn more

  • GoFundMe Guarantee

    In the rare case that something isn’t right, we will refund your donation. Learn more

  • Expert advice, 24/7

    Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more