MHS student’s startup gains traction locally

Submitted by Emily Duval

If you’ve ever taken a chemistry class, you may remember that the labs, though interesting, can easily become tedious and time consuming.

Especially in higher level classes, many students find themselves spending just as much class time setting up and cleaning up as they do performing the lab itself.

"My students often spend a large percentage of lab periods getting out measurement devices and dispensing solutions," Merrimack High School chemistry teacher Sean Muller said. "Students often struggle to finish the full lab on time and are frequently too busy rushing through a lab procedure to truly understand the concepts at play."

Upon recognizing this problem, Merrimack High School senior Matt Spettel decided to take action and create a device that not only decreases the amount of setup time, but also makes labs more exciting and engaging for students.

Spettel’s invention, the ChemiCube, is a portable pumping system that automatically dispenses set amounts of chemicals for use in high school science classrooms, and is 10 times more accurate than even an experienced chemist using traditional equipment.

Unlike other pumping systems, the ChemiCube is specifically designed to be easy for teachers and students to use during labs. It is also much more affordable than other systems, which can cost thousands of dollars.

With the support of teachers and administrators, what started as a science project for Spettel’s AP chemistry class has grown into a startup that is attracting a lot of attention in the Merrimack area. Several schools are interested in buying or have already purchased the ChemiCube for use in their classrooms.

On top of handling orders from schools, ChemiCube LLC has grown as a business through its connections and relationships with the community.

For instance, Spettel took the ChemiCube to Thorntons Ferry, one of Merrimack’s elementary schools, and talked to students who participated in this year’s Invention Convention program. He showed them the ChemiCube, talked to them about his experiences with the design thinking process and used his presentation to encourage them to keep inventing.

He also traveled to Cambridge, Mass., in January to meet the directors of Soft Robotics, a tech startup that makes adaptive grippers.

"ChemiCube is about so much more than selling pumping systems, to me," Spettel said. "Not only does it allow me to pursue my passions for engineering and entrepreneurship, but it also gives me a chance to spread STEM in my community and show other students that anyone can invent something new and make a difference."

Spettel plans to use a percentage of his profits to start STEM education programs, and he wants to use the ChemiCube to teach kids about programming. He is registered to take ChemiCube to the New Hampshire Science and Engineering Expo at NHTI on Thursday, March 17, as well as the BizGen competition at the University of New Hampshire in May.

ChemiCube’s next step is to increase manufacturing and marketing, and it is currently taking orders. Spettel is always looking for new schools and partners interested in ChemiCube.