Recently, the self-a-STEAM was abundant at Pittsburgh’s Avonworth Middle School. A cohort of eighth grade students completed real-world inventing coursework that derives directly from Inventionland’s proven nine-step inventing method.
Facing a shark-tank panel that included Inventionland founder and CEO, George Davison, and Inventionland Creationeers, Tim and Tess, over 20 student groups presented new product ideas that they had been working on for an entire semester.
According to Inventionland Executive Director, Nathan Field, this group of eighth grade Avonworth students is the first of three groups that will navigate through the hands-on, project-based coursework this year. The students, who represented two different classes, were merged into groups of two and three to work on the innovation course.
Field said that together, the student groups brainstormed their new product ideas. Then, designated makers worked to design and build the products, while designated marketers created the video and web assets needed for the groups’ final presentations.
“They really got the real-world experience of working together,” said Field, noting the sheer dedication of the Avonworth teachers, who had spearheaded the course material.
According to Field, the Inventionland innovation course is designed to allow students to explore many different technologies, including engineering, laser-cutting, and 3D-printing. Ultimately, he said that students seemed to gravitate toward the ones they most enjoy.
Field also noted that the shark tank panel typically picks only one winner, but the Avonworth students were so impressive that not only was a grand prize winner named, but two runners-up also received recognition.
“I was impressed with the amount of work that the students put into the products…There were a great amount of materials and tools used,” said Field. “I kept saying to myself, ‘My gosh, these are eighth graders!’ I was just so impressed by their capabilities.”
The Avonworth students also left quite an impression on members of the school district’s administration who were on hand to see the students’ creations. Field said they presented their ideas like true professionals.
“What stood out to me was seeing how well the students pitched their ideas under the pressure of the panel and with all the cameras,” said Field. “I was impressed with how they just got up in front of everyone and seemed so natural and comfortable. I think it says a lot about the next generation.”
In Avonworth’s case, that may just include a next generation full of makers.
“Here at Inventionland, we always talk about ‘failing our way forward,’” said Field. “The kids’ ambition and persistence. I was just blown away by the results and really excited to be a part of that.”
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