dig-8: Presenting to Financiers, Entrepreneurs, and Educators [Session 9.0]

July 24, 2013

Before reading, if you would like a back-story on the dig-8 program, please read our previous posts below:

dig-8: Teaching Product Development & Entrepreneurship to 8th Grade Students in Chicago Public Schools

Teaching Design Research to 8th Grade Students in dig-8 [Session 1.0]

Developing Personas in dig-8 [Session 2.0]

How Brainstorming Plays a Role in dig-8 [Session 3.0]

Choosing the “Big Idea” in dig-8 [Session 4.0]

Learning to Sketch on a Cintiq at Beyond Design [Session 5.0]

Creating Mock-ups in dig-8 [Session 6.0]

dig-8 Students Develop a Marketing Plan for their Product Design [Session 7.0]

dig-8 Students Create a Prezi Presentation [Session 8.0]


As their final presentation, students pitched their ideas to a panel of entrepreneurs, business professionals, and educators. Parents and friends of the students, as well as faculty, were also present during the presentations in the main school auditorium.

Principal Wulbert (Nettelhorst) opened the event with a short message about dig-8.

A video overview of the program was shown prior to the presentations to give those present an opportunity to see just what the students have been doing over the course of the 4-months (see video below).

The teams were judged on their product solution, market acceptance, ease of manufacturability, profitability, and overall presentation (speaking ability, eye contact, enthusiasm, etc.).

Congressman Mike Quigley gives a short speech prior to the kids presenting.

Team Innovate This presents their "Leaf-It-Here" product idea.

Team Lucky 7 presents their "Magner 7" customizable solution.

Members from team JBDT present their "Circles of Life" idea.

Team 'The Unknown' presents their caterpillar storage concept.

Team Silepatoo presents their "Helping Hands" solution.

The Magic Innovators present the "Flower Catch" product idea.

“Observing the students’ presentations today was powerful. The students have come a long way. Each talked about a complicated process in a genuine way and generated specific language. The students engaged in creative endeavors as problem solvers. This is a high level of functioning. All throughout the process the students consistently worked collaboratively and met the challenge at each level of the process in order to reach a goal. I think that has a lot to do with empowering their voice, know-how and understanding themselves and others as co-learners.” – John Nieciak, 8th Grade Language Arts Teacher

A Q&A session (which was set up much like a science fair) was held after all eight teams presented to give the judges an opportunity to ask questions regarding each design.

The panel of judges consisted of business professionals, entrepreneurs, and educators (see full list of panelists at the end of this post).

The panelists were given the opportunity to walk around after the presentations and ask the students questions regarding their design.

The Q&A session immediately after the presentations and prior to making the final decision.

Students were also given an opportunity to walk around and comment and/or ask questions on their peers designs.

“I really liked the presentation part and the question and answer part because it showed us the knowledge and provided us a time to reminisce our experiences.” – dig-8 student

After the Q&A session, panelists gathered to diligently review each of the team’s concepts and determine which concept would move forward. It proved to be a very difficult decision for the judges, as they could see more than one of the ideas on the market. Prior to announcing the chosen design, panelists provided feedback to each of the teams on not only their product idea, but also the way they presented it.

Panelists gave feedback to each team prior to announcing the chosen design to move forward.

“One thing that I liked about dig-8 was that we got to get judged on our final product, and that we get to get feedback from people who do this for a living.” – dig-8 student

In the end, the Elephant Hooks™ was selected because of its simple form, ability to get to market with minimal start-up investment cost, and its broad market appeal. At this point, as one large team, the class focused on building their startup around the chosen product. To gain support for bringing the Elephant Hooks™ to market, Beyond Design worked with the students to develop a Kickstarter campaign (which ended July 12 and was a success!).

The Cre8ors, who developed the Elephant Hooks, react as their design is announced the chosen concept to move forward.

The teams who helped make this program possible (with the exception of one team) are shown below.

The Unknown (mentored by Andrea Fraga (Northwestern))

Magic Innovators (Bryson Stewart (Beyond Design) is standing in for their mentor Mickey McCann (Beyond Design))

Cellebella (mentored by Michael Prince (Beyond Design))

Innovate This (mentored by Patrick Nally (Beyond Design) and Colin Quinn (Northwestern))

Lucky 7 (mentored by TJ Kim (Beyond Design))

Cre8ors (mentored by Trevis Kurz (Beyond Design) and Ruizhi Liu (Northwestern University))

One of the most important lessons of SEE and dig-8 is to teach students constructive failure, as that it what leads you to ultimate success. One of our panelists, Gavin Campbell (a successful entrepreneur and founder of Steelbridge Capital) said it best, “The lessons in losing are as important as the winning lessons. We all failed plenty of times before we got it right, and it was the losses that taught us to be winners—you study the winners and how they got there, and figure out what you did wrong so you can get it right the next time. The only time you really lose is when you become afraid of losing, because once you are there, you no longer take risks and are no longer an entrepreneur.”

It was incredible to see how far each student had come in such a short period of time. We couldn’t be more proud of these kids and what they have accomplished throughout this process.

If you’d like more information, or want to know how you can get involved, please contact Jessie Mumgaard here.

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