New MIT Museum Exhibit Shows Off Students’ Inventions

Inspired projects by MIT students will be on display through the end of the year.

mit student inventions

Top: Sprouts IO by Jennifer Broutin; Bottom Left: Motorized Prosthetic Arm by Tatyana Gubin; Bottom Right: DrumTop by Akito van Troyer. / Photos by Tina McCarthy, Courtesy of MIT Museum

A smartphone-controlled appliance that grows plants without soil, a tabletop interface that turns everyday objects into musical instruments, and a harp made of lasers—these are just a few of the projects you will find on display at the new interactive exhibit “Inventions: 2014 Student Showcase” at the MIT Museum.

Inspired inventions made by MIT undergraduate and graduate students will be shown through the end of the year, showing off the immense creativity that the school’s students have to offer.

The inventors hail from various programs—the MIT Media Lab, the School of Architecture and Planning, Aero/Astro, and others—and their projects span a variety of topics.

Some of these MIT inventions serve very obviously practical purposes. Adam Whiton’s Zipperbot, for example, does what the name implies: the small device uses motors and gears to open and close zippers.

Then there are inventions that tackle larger issues. The MIT Air Quality Network, invented by seniors in the Civil and Environmental Engineering program, is a sensor network that collects data about the air quality around campus.

And Beaver Works, an MIT Aero/Astro program, satisfies the public’s recent drone addiction with Locust, a tiny, foldable, autonomous, data-gathering drone launched in swarms from aircraft flare dispensers.

Finally, some MIT students’ inventions simply aim to make life a little lighter and brighter. DrumTop by Akito van Troyer, for instance, is a tabletop interface that converts everyday objects into musical instruments. SproutsIO, by Jennifer Broutin, is a smartphone-controlled appliance that grows plants in a soil-free environment, a microfarm that encourages eating local.

Other inventions in the exhibit include simulated satellite control with Spheres Interact, by Elizabeth Qian and Naomi Schurr; the MIT Laser Seal, a harp with laser beams instead of strings; ListenTree, a ficus that doubles as a speaker system, by Gershon Dublon and Edwina Portocarro; and more.

In addition to the eleven inventions on display, the student showcase also includes seven “kinetic art” sculptures from MIT’s “Exhibiting Science” class, talk by MIT Museum director John Durant with instructors/museum staff members Seth Riskin and Allan Doyle.


“Inventions: 2014 Student Showcase” will be on display through December 31, 2014. $10 regular admission, MIT Museum, Building N51, 265 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-253-5927,