National Inventors Hall of Fame Innovation Open Mic: Raising Voices STEM Activity & Museum Event


National Inventors Hall of Fame Innovation Open Mic: Raising Voices STEM Activity and Museum Event

National Inventors Hall of Fame Innovation Open Mic: Raising Voices WIE SIGHT STEM Activity & Museum Event

This STEM, innovation, and museum tour event is funded and organized by IEEE Region 1 Women in Engineering, IEEE NJ Coast Section WIE, IEEE NJ Coast Section PACE SIGHT Group, IEEE NJ Coast Section Instruments and Measurement, Computer Chapter.

Live or Virtual (Hybrid) with Christine Girtain, New Jersey Teacher of the Year including visit to the AT&T Science & Technology Innovation Center and Museum 200 S Laurel Ave in Middletown Township, New Jersey. Tour the excellent Museum and Visit with IEEE Volunteers and Luminaries. Share your story with young STEM students, teachers, others.

There is a STEM kit based on the inventions of IEEE Life Fellow and member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Jim West, including the electret microphone. Learn about inventors, innovations, and inventions.

Target Audience

Students aged 9 - 11, Educators teaching ages 9 - 11, Parents with children ages 9 - 11.

IEEE Members, Volunteers, Luminaries, IEEE SIGHT Group Members, others interested in STEM, History,  people interested in Innovation and Inventing.

Anticipated # of Participants

28 Students in a widely diverse at risk community aged 9 - 11 will participate in the "National Inventors Hall of Fame Innovation Open Mic: Raising Voices STEM Activity & Museum Event" and kits will be used across 4th graders at the school up to 50. Microphone materials will be used for 4th grade classes expected to reach approximately 100 students. Four (4) Teachers will participate in this "National Inventors Hall of Fame Innovation Open Mic: Raising Voices STEM Activity & Museum Event" and will learn the curriculum, materials, program, to continue forward with 4th graders in the future; they will also Teach the Teachers ongoing. Two (2) PTO parents will be included.

Several of the Teachers and IEEE Volunteers are parents. Several of our IEEE Volunteers are Inventors; one or more of our IEEE Volunteers is designer of the interactive learning systems at the AT&T S&TI Center. 8 IEEE Volunteers have already been involved in the Planning Phase; the team will hold online meetings and eNotices to invite IEEE members and volunteers to learn about the program, participate in a hybrid manner, and or participate at the Toms River School on a different date to be determined and or the AT&T Science & Technology Center and Museum on 5 June.

Members and Volunteers will help, tour the museum, participate, share their story.

Information about Jim West from the National Inventors Hall of Fame: James E. West

Electret Microphone

U.S. Patent No. 3,118,022
Inducted in 1999
Born Feb. 10, 1931
Military Service: U.S. Army

James West and Gerhard Sessler invented the electret microphone, which has advanced the sound industry and become the standard microphone used in products from music recording equipment to hearing aid devices.

West was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia. His mother Matilda gave birth at their family’s home, built by her father, because the nearby hospital in the town of Farmville would only admit white patients. West grew up wanting to understand how things work, often taking apart items like his grandfather’s pocket watch to explore the inner mechanics. He also developed a desire to change how some things work.

His curiosity was encouraged by his parents, who initially expected him to pursue a career as a doctor. His mother was one of the human computers who became known as the “Hidden Figures.” “She went from teaching at a school to working at Langley Research Center and was also an active officer in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,” said West.

When Langley ultimately fired West’s mother in reaction to her work with the NAACP, this was one of many experiences that fueled his determination to advocate for greater diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. “The topics of systemic racism and the increase in and acceptance of diversity have always been at the forefront of my mind,” he said.

While attending Temple University, during his summer breaks, West interned at Bell Labs. Here, the workforce was more diverse than that of most other companies at the time. “I met [people] who looked like me, who I wanted to be like when I grew up,” West explained. Upon earning his degree in 1957, he joined the company and began working in electroacoustics, physical acoustics and architectural acoustics.

West and Sessler, a fellow scientist at Bell Labs, worked together to develop a compact and inexpensive yet highly sensitive microphone. In their electret microphone, thin sheets of polymer electret film are metal-coated on one side to form the membrane of the movable plate capacitor that converts sound to electrical signals with high fidelity.

The pair patented their invention in 1962. It soon became widely used because of its high performance, accuracy and reliability, as well as its low cost, small size and light weight. Today, 90% of the 2 billion microphones manufactured yearly are electret microphones, and they are used in items from recording equipment and professional sound measurement instruments to phones, hearing aids, baby monitors and toys.

During his time at Bell Labs, West was also instrumental in coordinating a summer research program designed to improve diversity for women and underrepresented minorities throughout the operating companies of AT&T.

West brought his dedication to advocating for STEM education and diversity in innovation to his involvement in National Inventors Hall of Fame® education programs and competitions. He has collaborated in the development of curricula for the K-6 Camp Invention® program, made personal visits to Camp Invention program sites and served as a Collegiate Inventors Competition® Judge, encouraging innovators of all ages and backgrounds to pursue their ambitions.

A fellow of IEEE, West served as president of the Acoustical Society of America in 1997 and 1998 and is the recipient of the 2006 National Medal of Technology. He holds more than 70 U.S. patents and is currently a professor of electrical and computer engineering and mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

  Date and Time




  • Date: 05 Jun 2023
  • Time: 09:30 AM to 01:30 PM
  • All times are (UTC-04:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
  • Add_To_Calendar_icon Add Event to Calendar
If you are not a robot, please complete the ReCAPTCHA to display virtual attendance info.
  • AT&T Science and Technology Innovation Center and Museum
  • 200 S Laurel Ave.
  • Middletown Township, New Jersey
  • United States 07748

  • Contact Event Hosts
  • Starts 25 May 2023 06:55 PM
  • Ends 05 June 2023 08:55 AM
  • All times are (UTC-04:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
  • No Admission Charge


Dr Christine Girtain Dr Christine Girtain


National Inventors Hall of Fame Innovation Open Mic: Raising Voices STEM Activity & Museum Event

New Jersey Teacher of the Year


9:30am Volunteers and Attendees gather

10:00am Students, Teachers, Parents arrive

Tour and STEM Activity

Presentations by Volunteers

Lunch and Cake.

National Inventors Hall of Fame Innovation Open Mic: Raising Voices