Student Teams Present Innovative Solutions at First Global Entrepreneurship Challenge
- Tuesday, 02 May 2023 21:42
- Last Updated: Tuesday, 02 May 2023 21:55
- Published: Tuesday, 02 May 2023 21:42
- Wendy MacMillan
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Once again Scarsdale High School stands out as a vanguard in innovation and global education. On Friday April 28th, the SHS Design Lab and Steam Program hosted its first annual Global Entrepreneurship Challenge (GEC) inviting six other international teams to find solutions to universal problems that are experienced around the world.
The program, spearheaded by SHS teachers Heather Waters and Lisa Yokana, used the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which “provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future” as inspiration and a framework for the student’s work. Using the seventeen sustainable goals as guidance, students were encouraged to find a local issue and work in a team to find realistic solutions. According to Waters and Yokana, the teams from each school met with one another throughout the problem-solving process to share their thoughts about the issues at hand, and to exchange local perspectives and cultural norms.
Also during the process, students were given the opportunity to pitch their solutions to an array of expert mentors (including U.N. representatives) for commentary and feedback before the final submission and presentation. These experts included:
Amir A. Dossal- President, Global Partnerships Forum- Distinguished Fellow, Health & Healthcare, World Economic Forum
Anna M. Polomska-Risler -Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development
Will Kennedy- Senior Program Officer, United Nations Office for Partnerships
Khalid Elachi- Executive Director of MCW Global Education in under resourced communities
Oliver Libby- The Resolution Project Entrepreneur
Joan Ai– Founder, Prepared Child- Co-Founder, Blanchard House Institute
Joan Dulitz- Teacher of Students with Blindness and Visual Impairment
Michelle Sterling- Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council-Sustainability Mentor
Ron Schulhof -Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council-Sustainability Mentor
Jonathan Hooper- Teacher of Students with Visual Impairment
First to present their idea to the audience, was The Austin Eco Bilingual School who traveled to Scarsdale all the way from Argentina. The team of six high school students began by detailing the problems with “fast fashion” and the detrimental impact it has on our environment. According to the team, fast fashion contributes to 10% of global co2 emissions, 85% of garbage, and 20% of global water pollution. Their solution was to create a program starting at their own school called Upcycle: Reduce Your Fashion Footprint. The team created an app that creates a centralized process and allows people to quickly and easily resell their used clothing. The team from Argentina had great success with their app and program at the Austin Eco Bilingual School and hope to expand it to the rest of their community and beyond.
Next to deliver their presentation was the Uccellis Team from Italy, who attended the event via Zoom. The Uccellis Team describe the problem they were trying to tackle by stating, “High school students don’t have enough academic support: supplies have a huge economic toll on them and their families and they aren’t very sustainable, the need for extra school tutoring courses adds to the economic impact.” To minimize this economic and environmental toll, the team from Italy created “Let’s Swap” a website that “improves quality education by sustainably providing and facilitating academic support exchanges between high school students.” The website allows students to connect with other students and communicate about what they would like to exchange. The website provides users with a variety of options including school supplies, textbooks, tutoring, and other miscellaneous materials. In closing, the team shared that they hope to “provide all students with the opportunity to learn and to have access to books and online tutoring.”
The BPK Penabur Team, from Indonesia, also joined the event via Zoom. This team created an app to provide users with various safety features that coordinate to emergency services wherever they happen to be in the world. They named the app Artemis, which the team related means “Always There” in ancient Greek. The App, which can be used in several different languages, includes components like maps and tracking services, emergency numbers for whichever country you are in, important news headlines, and online education to teach users safety techniques and self-defense. Artemis was designed to help prevent abductions so in addition to tracking services and links to call local emergency services, users can fill out a missing person report right in the app.
Heartbeat in a Box
The Bolles School from Jacksonville, FL., also made the trek to Scarsdale to present their GEC idea in person. This team aims to help homeless people by providing them with medical supplies and pamphlets in a portable, sustainable bag which they dubbed, “Heartbeat in a Box”. As the team explained in their presentation, healthcare is a basic human right that many of the 150 million homeless people in the world don’t have access to…a situation the Bolles Team hopes to help remedy. Each “Heartbeat in a Box” includes pamphlets in multiple languages that help decode medical jargon and have simple visual instructions. The bags, created for the homeless population in Jacksonville, also contain eco-friendly bug spray, sunscreen, homemade soap sheets, gauze and tape, led lights and an alarm system for dangerous situations. While these bags were designed with the specific needs of the Jacksonville population in mind, the Bolles Team also interviewed coordinators of a shelter in the northeast so they would be able to adapt the bags for homeless people in various climates who might have different needs.
Our hometown SHS team, (Henry Nova, Chelsea Berson, Daphne Boockvar and Alex Tretler), aims to help students with fine-motor skill issues have better access to playing instruments and enjoying music lessons like their peers. As the team explained, most musical instruments are created for able-bodied people who own fine-motor dexterity, preventing many impaired students from enjoying the benefits of learning how to play music; benefits like reduced stress and improved cognitive function. To help alleviate this disparity, the SHS Team invented a musical device they call Table Tunes. To ensure that they built a thoughtful and appropriate musical device, the team met with music and special education teachers from Scarsdale and further abroad. With advice from these experts, they were able to produce an easy to use, ergonomical, and sustainable device that helps to bring smiles, joy, and a sense of connection to its users. Another key element of Team SHS’ Table Tunes idea is that they published instructions to recreate the device online, allowing anyone with internet access to replicate Table Tunes, truly making the idea accessible to all.
To close out this amazing event another team from Indonesia, The Binus School, joined virtually to present their solution to the “significant and persistent problem of plastic waste that poses a threat to the environment and human well-being”. To combat this problem, the Binus Team developed Cerita Plastik, an upcycling program, “Where waste turns into treasure and dreams turn into reality.” As they describe, “our goal is to convey stories through plastic creations and contribute to the existing government programs on waste management.” Some of the products the team plans to create include stylish brooches, bags and pocketbooks, and even furniture.
With its motto of “Non-Sibi” (not for self, but for others), the Scarsdale district continuously messages the importance of listening, collaborating, and demonstrating respect for other perspectives and cultures…but the Global Entrepreneurship Challenge was a powerful opportunity for students to practice these important life-skills in real time. Every one of the impressive teams that showcased their hard work, was poised, well-spoken, and demonstrated a sense of professionalism far beyond their years. The ingenuity, resourcefulness, and dedication to this year-long project was on full display during each presentation.
Heather Waters who said the event was “a great opportunity to connect with the larger global community and to recognize that we all face the same issues” was too humble to highlight that her own hard work and dedication to this project saw her honored with the Global Expression and Thought Prize for the Entrepreneurship Challenge curriculum which she developed in partnership with Lisa Yokana.