Open Window 8th graders recently received a special invitation to join a Google Hangout with MIT’s “Bionic Man” Dr. Hugh Herr. This was one of many opportunities these students received as a result of having their mobile app named “Best in Nation” in the 2014 Verizon App Challenge.
Dr. Herr was one of the country’s leading rock climbers when a climbing accident claimed both legs below his knees, changing the course of his life and putting him on the path to become the world’s leading designer of bionic limbs. Dr. Herr shared fascinating information about how his research group is using technology to eliminate disability and students had a chance to ask him questions about his work.
In 2013-14, OWS Innovation & Tech Lab Director Adrienne Gifford brought the Verizon App Challenge to 7th graders, allowing them to explore creative ideas and build an app that would be helpful in the community. One group took their app Hike About all the way to a national level win. As a result, they were provided expertise to launch the app, plus a $20,000 grant from Verizon that has helped the school continue developing the tech program and an innovative makerspace.
Open Window is a leader in both technology and the makerspace movement. We are fortunate to have a talented teacher who is passionate about her subject and students who have seized the opportunity afforded by great resources and the freedom to explore ideas. Ms. Gifford is part of a national network of tech leaders and was recognized by ISTE as one of the nation’s seven Emerging Young Leaders in 2013.
The chance to connect with innovative leaders like Dr. Herr provides students access to real world problem solvers, proving that anything is possible. Using Open Window’s makerspace model, students; build off the ideas of others, are intrinsically motivated to make choices, take risks, learn from mistakes and failures, and build resilience, which opens endless possibilities for the problem solvers of the future.