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Best of the Week 2019-2020: Teaching to the Future


To further our opportunities for prospective students interested in innovation, St. Ed's launched a second season of the Young Innovators' Institute, inviting sixth and seventh grade boys from around greater Cleveland to participate in a nine-week design challenge. Having access to our Ideation and Maker's Labs in the Lowe Institute for Innovation, students are empowered to imagine, prototype, produce, market and then pitch daring new products. This year, St. Ed's Young Innovators' Institute Season 2 has partnered with Upcycle Parts Shop, a non-profit leader in sustainable art and supplies in Cleveland that inspires its customers to not only reuse discarded textiles and materials, but to also express their most creative and eco-friendly selves via those same materials. "Last season, we took more general order requests for raw materials through Amazon and 3-D printing AutoCAD mock-ups to help students assemble their prototypes," says Associate Dean of Academics and IB Coordinator Mr. Nick Kuhar. "On one hand, it was a convenient model, but also somewhat costly and lengthy. In the spirit of trying to be more environmentally conscious, we decided to strengthen our partnership with Upcycle Parts Shop led by Nicole McGee and Marissa Siebert. This was a perfect way to empower our young innovators to see how ingenuity, innovation and good stewardship of the Earth could all overlap."

This week, nearly 30 students participating in the Young Innovators' Institute Season 2 had the opportunity to visit Upcycle for a private hour of shopping to stock up on materials they needed to bring their product ideas to life. "All 10 teams of students came in, armed with a list of raw materials they hoped to collect for their product, and left with over a dozen bags of materials that were locally-sourced and allowed us to dramatically cut down on excess material consumption," says Mr. Kuhar. "This experience was a combination of shepherding young creators into a part of Cleveland proper they'd likely never seen and letting them loose in one of the city's most magical storefronts."

With six more workshops to go, students will be able to use the materials they've collected from Upcycle to create their products and ultimately pitch their creation ideas for a chance to win a cash prize. "The idea is to help these young makers see themselves as creative problem solvers," says Mr. Kuhar. "Although we meet for 90-minute workshop installments, that's not enough time to design a complex gadget or device, but it is enough time to help students zero in on a real problem in their life and play with resources that might help them overcome those issues. Making a fun, unique fidget spinner or an alternation to a coat-zipper that prevents it from getting jammed, those are the right sized challenges for these students. This experience doubles as a platform for them to learn how to be open-minded, how to compromise, and how to work past their fears of sharing their ideas and thoughts. Those are the social and intellectual skills we prize as an IB world school."

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