Design, Modeling and Prototyping Parts 1 and 2 introduce students in grades 5 and 6 to the concept of social entrepreneurship, and introduces the skills necessary to be a responsible entrepreneur. Each lesson provides students with opportunities to learn about and apply the design process to solve authentic problems creatively. In the first activity, students are introduced to a course-long problem that they return to throughout the trimester as their technical skills and ability to collaborate grow. Students learn and utilize methods for communicating design ideas through sketches, hand-crafted and computer-generated models and statistical analysis. They work in teams to identify design requirements, research their target user and engage stakeholders by presenting their process and prototypes. In these first two years of middle school entrepreneurship, students practice empathy as they devote their skills to designing and fabricating prototypes for orthotic devices and therapeutic toys.
The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center offers App Invention for Entrepreneurs in grades 7 and 8 as of the fall of 2021. This course builds upon the principles of social entrepreneurship and introduces coding as a tool for social impact. In this introduction to computer science, students practice computational thinking through the creation of mobile apps and games. They begin the semester by exploring the logic of algorithms on paper, and transfer that knowledge to the block coding environment on MIT App Inventor. Each activity provides opportunities for students to practice essential skills in coding, such as programming UI elements, navigating lists of data, manipulating variables to respond to user-initiated events. As they practice, they are simultaneously brainstorming how they will apply each of these tools to their own original app, which they present as their final project. Students are challenged to be creative and innovative as they collaboratively design and develop mobile solutions for engaging, authentic problems.
Beginning in fall 2022, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center will offer Computer Science for Innovators and Makers for grade 8. This course teaches students that programming goes beyond the virtual world into the physical world, and that physical computing is at the core of many new products from home assistants and smart homes to toys and games. Students are challenged to creatively use sensors and actuators to develop systems that interact with their environment. Designing algorithms and using computational thinking practices, students code and upload programs to microcontrollers that perform a variety of authentic tasks. The course broadens students’ understanding of entrepreneurship and computer science concepts through meaningful applications. Teams select and solve a socially relevant problem related to wearable technology, interactive art or mechanical devices.