This quarter’s theme is “Be the Solution.” Students were challenged with the task of determining an existing problem in society and inventing a solution for that problem. For the last eight weeks, they have brainstormed ideas, researched potential solutions, connected with real-life experts in various areas, and brought their solutions to life. The inventions range in topic from hurricane protection to hindering texting and driving, apple peelers to book stands, self-dispensing toothpaste to a never-dying phone battery.
Their creativity and hard work were put to the test yesterday as each of them stood before a panel of adults to pitch their invention. Our “Shark Tank” panel included members of our district’s school board, the district LEAP committee, and the Northstar staff. Students were critiqued on their creativity, their presentation skills, and their persuasion techniques.
A number of things stand out in my mind as I reflect on the events of yesterday.
- Presenting to an audience of adults (some familiar, some not) raises the stakes SO much for both students and advisers. It means so much more to them to share their ideas with adults other than their teachers. It heightens excitement and nerves. And come presentation time, it is out of my hands, which allows me to play a more honest and helpful role as they prepare and practice.
- A member of the Shark Tank panel mentioned several things to me afterward. She was impressed, first, in their freedom to choose their own topics. Second, the creativity demonstrated from project to project was impressive. Finally, she was truly touched by how evident it was that they all, regardless of their project topic, have a true desire to help others.
- The community we are building is beautiful and inspiring. I began the day by reminding everyone that, despite their differences in preparedness for their presentations, we all want everyone to be successful and to help each other out wherever needed. As I looked around the room all morning, everywhere I looked, I saw students lending hands. Some helped edit presentations while others listened to groups practice their presentations in order to offer feedback and suggestions. After presenting, I even saw one boy offer his button-up dress shirt to another for his presentation. (See pictures below)
- I am so proud. Before each presentation, I snapped a quick picture of each group (though I owe Ben, Brock, and Jake something big for missing them!), and I wished them luck. Thinking about it now, I am brought to tears. In those moments, I feel how I imagine a parent feels as they watch their child tackle a new feat or overcome a new challenge. This is why I teach. This is why I stand by our beliefs and goals in the ARCTIC Zone. So I can watch my students take on life with confidence and excitement.