A Discussion on STEM Education and Entrepreneurship

October 21, 2013

The Segal Design Institute at Northwestern University runs a program called NED Talks and it kicked off yesterday with a session called “NEDucation: A panel about emerging trends in and out of the classroom.” Michael Prince, President of Beyond Design, Dan Green, Executive Director of Illinois First program and Julian Miller, founder of LearnMetrics, were asked to speak at the event about their involvement with STEAM education and discuss the importance of teaching students tangible methods with hands-on project based learning.

Dan Green, Julian Miller, and Michael Prince at Northwestern University.

Michael Prince spoke about dig-8 and the impact the program had on the students in its pilot year at Nettelhorst School in Chicago. The program is designed to teach students about product development and give them the opportunity to design real products, and create real startups, right in the classroom. The dig program helps students develop principles and skills they will use for the rest of their lives, in any profession they choose. You can learn more about dig-8 here.

Michael Prince speaks about dig-8 and STEM education at NU.

Dan Green, Executive Director of Illinois FIRST, talked about the importance of students being interactive through learning. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen (who is best known for inventing the Segway) to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology. The FIRST programs vary by age and challenge so that learning never stops building upon itself. Starting at age 6 and continuing through middle and high-school levels up to age 18, young people can participate at any level.

In fact, Beyond Design was a sponsor of Lane Tech’s Robotics Club who just last year entered their FIRST Robotics Competition (read our blog post on it here). Using a standard “Kit of Parts,” a common set of rules, limited resources and time constraints, FRC teams are challenged to design, build, and program a robot to perform the tasks of the season’s game against a field of competitors in a sports-like event, as well as raise funds, design a team “brand,” and hone teamwork skills. You can check out the FIRST website to learn more about this incredible program.

Dan Green speaks about FIRST in Illinois.

Julian Miller, Founder of LearnMetrics, was another speaker at the event. LearnMetrics is a tool that gives educators instant access to the data they need to create more meaningful learning experiences for their students. It allows teachers to find patterns in their students’ work and/or test scores and better manage their grades, attendance, schedules, demographics, test results, meetings, etc. You can learn more about the software here.

STEM (or STEAM) education is becoming more important than ever and it was great to meet others who are doing their part to bring it to more schools in Chicago and nationwide, as well as have an open discussion with the students who share our same passion for design and education.

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