Innovation, NFTE, and Microsoft

In my freshman class, the students have just finished submitting their games that they’ve been working on for over 5 weeks. They each had to pick one of the United Nations Millennium Goals (Hunger, Education, Gender equality, Children health, AIDS, Maternal health, Global partnership, and environmental sustainability) and make a game that either brings attention to the concept or teaches about the concept. To see the students take a raw idea and develop it day after day and see the idea start to take shape…ahhh music to my ears. As a teacher, there is no greater joy. Entrepreneurism at it’s finest! It’s gonna take me the better part of a week to go through each game, but what a fun week!

So, I knew it was fate when I found out about the World Series of Innovation competition that Microsoft and NFTE are sponsoring. It is not necessarily targeted at Computer Scientists, but it fits beautifully into what we just finished doing in class. Having just completed their game design projects, they now understand what goes into making a great game. Can they take that knowledge and apply it to solve another problem?

Ok, so what is the World Series of Innovation?

Students, in groups of 5 or 6 work together to submit a 2 page application which describes in great detail everything to know about their project idea. While there were many more categories in the competition, my class focused only on the Mobile App and Mobile Game categories. Both the app and games ideas have to be based around the idea of students and education. Each team will also submit a 30 second video “selling” their idea. The students do not actually make the app or game, but they submit the concept. The winning team of the competition, in addition to winning many cool prizes, gets to work with a real Microsoft developer to try to actually produce a working copy of the their idea
We’ve spent the last 4 days letting the kids work on this and I have been blown away by the collaboration, team work, communication, and productivity I’ve seen. The teams have split themselves up into the script writers, videographers, actors, application question responders, and project manager. While I’ve worked with each team just to make sure they were on track with the project guidelines they have taken the ball and ran with it. As a teacher I am so proud. Our school will submit 8 groups between the 2 categories and I would not be surprised at all if one of these teams gets some national recognition.
Yes, it took 4 days of my class….and yes it has been a wonderful 4 days…and yes I would do it again in a heartbeat.
An innovative teacher never misses opportunities to let the real world enter your classroom.

About Doug Bergman

Head of Computer Science at Porter-Gaud School in Charleston, SC
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