The culmination of a whole semester's worth of collaborative work came in late January when scholars in Tiffany Green's Business Management classes presented their work to a panel of judges that included industry representatives, BUILD staff, and IDEA staff.
BUILD, IDEA's partner in offering our business management pathway, provided scholars with the COVID-19 Virtual Design Challenge. With guidance from BUILD mentors, scholars worked together to understand the issues facing their hypothetical clients and develop possible solutions.
"They used a human-centered design approach, just like professional entrepreneurs and consultants do," explained IDEA CTE Director Andrea Zimmermann. "Scholars followed the steps of design thinking: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. Since they were working with imaginary clients, this was like a lab simulation so scholars could practice and apply the design thinking process. During the second semester they will use this same process to pitch their own business ideas."
Projects developed by Business Management scholars included an app that checks on users' mental health and provides counseling options, a walkie-talkie system to strengthen engagement between teachers and students in the virtual school environment, and a community-based peer interest group to reduce isolation among young people.
After presenting their ideas, scholars reflected on what they had learned from the experience and which elements of the process were most challenging for them. Some scholars appreciated that, even though it was hard, the design thinking model required them to go beyond their comfort zones and improve their ability to communicate with others and present a project together.
The judges were impressed by the scholars' efforts, offering specific and positive feedback and asking questions after each presentation.
"This project is particularly exciting because IDEA staff engaged in the same process last summer when we were working together to develop new and better ways of engaging and serving our scholars," explained Principal Nicole McCrae. "This method of approaching a problem is universally applicable."