K12 Design Thinking Competition

I got accepted into the Georgia Tech K12 inventure prize challenge! I’m so excited to be able to bring this experience to my students.  The inventure prize is televised on GA public TV every year, and I’ve watched the finalist the last couple of years. I’m really impressed by the creativity of the Georgia Tech students that compete for the $20,000 grand prize. Some of my favorite designed projects were a biometrics app that only allows you to unlock a cell phone; a universal phone charger that folds into the sized of a credit card; a redesigned crutch; robotic dog toys; and this year’s winner the Safi Choo Toilet. This year’s winner was particularly cool because 1) it was social entrepreneurial in nature, 2) was designed by an all female group of engineers, 3) tackled an issue that may otherwise have been swept under the rug (toilet and water sanitation in refugee camps).

Here are the cool benefits of the K12 challenge (narrative still reflects last school year’s pilot):

During the 2012-2013 school year, the pilot program was tested at Peachtree Ridge High School and Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology. Seven lessons that guide teachers and students through completing an engineering design and entrepreneurship project were implemented. Students received feedback on ideas from professors during a Pitch Day at their schools. They also witnessed undergraduate innovation and voted for a K-12 prize at Georgia Tech’s Fall Capstone Expo. Students then made and tested their own prototypes. The top 3 student teams from each school were invited to present their work at a VIP reception prior to the InVenture Prize. An additional 100 InVenture Challenge participants were audience members during the InVenture Prize. For the second year, the goal is to expand the program to an additional six to eight schools.  (https://inventureprize.gatech.edu/challenge/aboutus)

The materials and training provided by Georgia Tech are fantastic and I’m most excited about students pitching their ideas to GT professors. We piloted something similar at our school last year and the high stakes environment surrounding the “pitch party” was really eye opening and beneficial for students. The suggested lesson plans provided by GT are an adaptation of Stanford d.School’s design thinking process. I feel good about that as I know that myself and my students are familiar with the process and have done several design challenges.

The K12 challenge does not compete with the college level entrants (pheeew), but I’m still really anxious about getting started. The main source of my anxiety is trying to determine which group of students to invite to participate. My plan was to do it as part of my new Technology, Engineering, and Design course, but I’m nervous about adding one more thing on top of what I already like as a course design. I also could do it with my makers club, but because we only meet briefly after school once a week. I’m nervous this may not be enough time to “make a dent”. My essential question, then, is “Which best enhances student centered learning and creativity: work inside of class or outside of class (via clubs)? Are CTSOs like the TSA and FIRST Robotics an indication that the best student centered learning innovation happens outside of the classroom?


2 Comments on “K12 Design Thinking Competition”

  1. Pinya says:

    That sounds like so much fun!!!!!! If it matters, I think you should let makers club do it because some of us that really wanted to take your elective are taking a different course. (Yes, me included.)
    What if we did makers club meetings like how we did our Design Team meetings last year? We kind of went with a week by week situation where we tried to meet when we could during lunch, study hall, or after school. Being a club it would give us more flexibility that way.

    • TJE says:

      LOVE this idea! In fact, I’m coming more around to the idea of using this comp as a Maker Club “special project”. I like that I would allow more freedom outside of a classroom environment. PLUS, it would be a chance to work with a pretty awesome group of students again. 🙂

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