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posted Mar 24, 2017, 4:33 PM by Diana Salda–a
Macintosh HD:private:var:folders:30:flm_vn152wd7b22m_sxt_tt80000gp:T:TemporaryItems:W-mrt-HP.jpgHello ASFM Community!

During the second week of March, I was fortunate to attend the SxSW Edu annual conference in Austin, Tx, to learn about the new trends in Education. There were dozens of interesting sessions happening at the same time, so choosing was pretty difficult.

I attended several sessions on instruction, curriculum and implementation, as well as sessions on equity, leadership, technology and innovation. Yet a couple of sessions really impacted and inspired me. 

One of these  was called  “Inspire Innovation through Competition”, I was curious about the topic, since I don’t necessarily favor competition. I walked in with an open mind, and after attending it, I must say, I walked out of there with a different perspective.

The session started with a panel of professionals, and a 17 year old girl, her name is Alexis Lewis, who is an inventor and has won many competitions. This panel stated that competition provides many benefits to students such as, it spurs innovation, it helps students develop skills of entrepreneurship and invention while inspiring them to use kindness, creativity and STEM skills. 

They also argued that students, (or people in general) would most definitely generate new and better ideas because competition itself is a motivator. Plus, it is a way for students to use the 4Cs of 21st century skills –critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication, as well as engage in PBL trying to solve a real world problem, which will result in enduring understandings. Under this innovation concept, which involves Project Based Learning as well as inventing, students have the opportunity to turn their ideas into prototypes and/or models that can be showcased in makerspaces or classrooms using the process of Design Thinking.

My next question was, ‘what is Design Thinking?’ To answer it, I attended a 3-hour summit called ‘Education by Design’ in which we experienced the process of Design Thinking. The facilitators welcomed us by saying that most of us might think that this process was intuitive, yet told us that going through a structured process would help to maximize creativity, and come up with better solutions and better products. It was true! We worked in teams and by the end of the session every team had invented, and produced a prototype of a non-existent innovative product.

With these two sessions, I started thinking that this is something ASFM could implement, even without the competition model. Imagine a class about inventing, where students are looking at real world problems, researching about them, and through the process of design thinking building prototypes to create new, real products, that in turn could potentially solve these real problems. 

Alexis Lewis, the young inventor I mentioned earlier is actually promoting the creation of an “Inventor 101” elective class for MSHS, but after seeing great inventions from students, as young as 7 years old, I believe this could be something we could even implement in Elementary in a maker space program, or a STEM lab. After all, this young inventor said, “Inventing is fairly simple – it’s just problem-solving with a physical solution.”

So you see, I think this would be a wonderful way to promote, and teach Open Minds, Caring Hearts, and raise responsible Global Leaders who won’t just sit around, but instead solve real world problems.  I think this is a great way to empower students to believe in themselves and use their innate innovative abilities to create, thus supporting a generation of young leaders who have the power to solve real world problems making an impact today.

If you are interested in learning more about Alexis Lewis, or her Inventing 101 elective class I encourage you to do so by clicking on the following links. She is an inspiration, and a true example of a Global leader who demonstrates a caring heart, and experiences life with an open mind. 

Click on these links: