Visitors to Carrollwood Day School can’t walk by the Center for Innovation without stopping for a second look. The walls are covered with writing, desks are arranged in random configurations, and students are using twitter to connect with others.
This isn’t an out-of-control classroom; it’s CDS’s inaugural Design Entrepreneurship Technology class, and students have been busy working on, validating, and preparing to pitch their startups—everything from smartphone apps and cupcakes to emergency hair solutions. “But the course can’t be taught in a traditional way,” explains faculty member Jim Poulin, “where everyone sits down and learns the same thing simultaneously. The process is different for each startup. As in the real world, students must create whatever’s needed to move forward.”
On whiteboard walls, they can jot down ideas to share with classmates; bright green ones can serve as green screen for video projects. One group may study basic Photoshop to edit images for an app or website while another prepares a promotional video. Teachers are there to facilitate and guide, but the students determine most of the direction as they work to validate their ideas. “You can’t just come up with random ones,” says tenth grader Danny O’Brien. “You have to think about how you can help your community by talking to people and listening to what they need.”
The class, open to ninth and tenth graders, encourages entrepreneurial thinking and leadership skills, and is the newest addition to the school’s expanding Science, Technology, Entrepreneurship, Engineering, and Science (STEEM) program.