Some 120 students at Lynn Fripps Elementary now know some of what’s involved in creating a product and bringing it to market.
The Grade 4 and 5 students spent a few months creating products then going through a Dragon’s Den style presentation in front of teachers and administrators to see if they could tap into their entrepreneurial side. They had to pitch items that ranged from a hoverboard vacuum cleaner and hoodie with wifi to an essential oil mixture to help students concentrate and portable change room for dancers and athletes. There were also a lemon-powered cellphone charger, customized slime kits, dog walking services, and a pet food feeder, and more.
Technology teacher Jennifer Fernandes had the students work in groups to do the projects.
“Our main focus for this project was innovation, integration of technology, personal and group attributes, goal setting, networking, overcoming obstacles and monitoring success. The students spent quite a bit of time in their groups researching their shared interests, ideas and motivations for invention. Then they agreed upon a product, researched some more and built their prototype,” she explained.
Fernandes said this kind of learning is completely different from teaching out of the book.
“I find that students do not engage as much with out of the book practice. If you make it meaningful, interesting and engaging in a real life situation, the students retain the information and apply it in other curricular areas and other situations in life,” she commented. “The students were so engaged with what they were preparing that they went the extra mile and made iMovies, skits and commercials to present their idea. When we did our weekly goal setting check-ins the students were so excited and were feeding off of each other’s ideas while brainstorming, it was really great to see such enthusiasm.”
The teacher approached the CBC about using the term Dragon’s Den for the project so her social media posts weren’t a problem. She also showed the students some episodes so they were familiar with the concepts and format.
She would like to see this made a district-wide project.
“My vision would be a big competition that spans the district, held at Lynn Fripps,” Fernandes said. “ Maybe we could be lucky enough to have one of the Dragons’ come judge or maybe a local Langley business mogul.”
The students were graded on a combination of factors.
There was peer assessment, and even some self assessment as well as presentation grades, question booklets they had to complete, and good old-fashioned benchmarks such as meeting deadlines for various components of the overall project.
The group that created the customized slime kits sold more than $200 worth of them and donated the funds to B.C. Children’s Hospital. The winning projects were the hoverboard vac and the wifi hoodie.
It’s hard to say whether some or any of these Grade 4 and 5 students will become entrepreneurs, but Fernandes said the project was about teaching them how to be adaptable.
The project covered various parts of the curriculum but she’s confident the students gained more – “the skills to collaborate on a project in a situation that allows for the kids to effectively communicate, persevere and problem solve during a project and after setbacks,” she said. “I explained to the kids that you don’t always get to choose who you work with, but if you learn these skills and sharpen the skills as you grow then you will be able to work with anybody and succeed both as a team and as an individual in the workplace.”