The Process of Choosing Ideas for Projects, Evaluating Them and Implementing Them By Galit Zamler
On this page an example of the process of choosing ideas for projects, evaluating them, and implementing them within the school framework.
In the Mordei HaGetaot School in Israel, a group of third to fifth grade, who chose the elective course of entrepreneurial leadership, attended the Entrepreneurship for Kids program.
The goal was to allow students to raise project ideas and realize them, if possible. This way, the students could experience the process of being entrepreneurs. Students had the opportunity to go through all the stages that entrepreneurs go through, including concept, design, and implementation.
The process that the children experienced is displayed here. You can see the many ideas for projects that the students came up with, the reasons for abandoning some of them, and how initial thoughts have been changed due to a design thinking process.
Step 1 - Exposure to Various Venture Ideas
The first meetings dealt with "Who is an entrepreneur,?" "Entrepreneurial Skills," and "Learning From Other's Experience." Students were exposed to a wide variety of different types of projects: social, business, and social business. Also, they were exposed to children's and older people's projects, technological ventures and non-technological projects, and so on.
The purpose of presenting various projects and stories about entrepreneurs was to awaken the spark that exists in each of the children to dare to come up with ideas for projects even if they sound entirely unrealistic.
Exposing students to unsuccessful projects; some are fascinating ideas that look promising and have the potential for success was equally important. Exposure to failed projects is important and encourages children to dare to try and fail. This helps children understand that failure is OK and probably an inevitable stage of entrepreneurship. Therefore, they should not worry too much about it, but rather accept it with the understanding that failure is part of an entrepreneur's journey to success.
Step 2 - Raising Ideas for Projects by Young Entrepreneurs
After learning about entrepreneurship and thinking about needs, dreams, and problems to solve, the children raised their own ideas for projects.
The focus at this early stage was on accepting any idea that came to mind, without filtering and without any restrictions, and provided that the students think they are capable of implementing the idea.
The result is a range of ideas presented here:
- Microwave that is also a TV
- Intercom to call a guard
- Hairdressing at school
- T-Shirt for Any Size
- A pencil that does homework
- Small cupboard for every child in the classroom
- A knife that is safe to use
- A game centerboard games that the students can play during recess
- Pencil that turns into a pen
- Electric bag
- Buffet at school
- Shoes to lift us
- Kiosk at school
- A yard for each class
Step 3 - Explaining the Ideas
Students learned that if an idea stays in your head, it won't lead you anywhere. You have to share your thought with others as well as ask for help and feedback.
The young entrepreneurs realized that they needed to know how to explain their ideas, so others will understand what they are thinking about. Sometimes what you think is obvious is not necessarily clear to others.
Step 4 - Presenting the Idea to an Audience and Asking Questions
The young entrepreneurs prepared to present their ideas to their classmates.
Together we learned how to speak to an audience. We also learned that our message is important, and it must be clear and to the point. We also have to pay attention to our body language when presenting ideas - that we look at the audience and make eye contact with. Moreover, It is important to maintain eye contact with the audience. Lastly, we learned that the tone of speech should be clear and confident.
The students presented their ideas to explain and clarify their intentions for the projects.
Each student presented his/her idea for the project, and the members of the entrepreneurial group asked questions for clarification.
At this point, the idea owners just listened to the questions, which were written down. For the next meeting, the young entrepreneurs were asked to come up with answers.
The project: Microwave that has a TV screen on the door
- How would such a microwave be built?
- Where will the TV be?
- Is the TV on the door or inside of the actual microwave?
- Who watches TV in the kitchen? Who needs this?
- Will the TV work only when the microwave is in use?
- Why do we need a microwave in school?
- Will the TV overheat when the microwave is in use?
The young entrepreneur, Lia, came back with answers to those questions
The project: An intercom that calls the guard when someone comes to the school's gate, and the guard is not there. When people come, they will click the intercom and send a message to the guard. The guard will then go and open the gate.
- How will the intercom call the guard, and from where?
- What will this invention be called?
- How would it work from the technical aspect?
- What device will the guard have?
The young entrepreneur, Maya, replied to those questions:
The project: A hairdresser in the school, so that you will be close and accessible to all students.
- Where will the barbershop be placed?
- How will we raise money for the hairdresser?
- What is unique about this hairdresser?
- Who will be the barber?
The project: A T-shirt for any size - a shirt that you can shrink and stretch it to fit different sizes, therefore, saving money on buying clothes.
In the end, the project A T-Shirt for Any Size was implemented. Clicking on this link will direct you to the page where the project is explained in detail.
- How can one T-shirt be for all sizes?
- Is it one T-shirt that fits several sizes or several T-shirts that fit several sizes?
- What material is the T-shirt made of?
- What is the purpose of this T-shirt?
- Who needs such a garment? Who is the target audience?
Young entrepreneur, Yair, came back with answers:
The invention: A pencil that does homework
Whoever does not like to do homework will use a pencil with a small device attached. The device will do the homework for the student. The pencil will not only know how to read the questions but also how to find answers and write them down.
- How does the pencil identify the written questions?
- Where does the pencil get its answers from?
- How can the pencil write the answers alone?
The young entrepreneur, Eden, came back with answers to the questions.
The project idea: A cabinet for all
Every student will have a small cabinet in the classroom, that he or she can keep his/her books and notepads in so that he or she does not have to carry a heavy school bag.
- Where would the cabinets be located?
- Where would we get funding for every kid to have their own cabinet?
- Why do we need cabinets if we have lockers?
The invention: A safe knife to use
A knife that prevents accidents during its usage. Specifically, a knife that prevents accidents when being handled by children who are not as cautious or careful.
- How and when would the safety cover be attached to the knife?
- How would the safety cover attached to the knife on time when needed?
- How can users disable the safety cover to keep using the knife with it?
- Who knows to make such a knife?
The project idea: School playroom
Establish a room in the school with various games for the benefit of students during recess or free classes. The place would include board games, computer games, video games, and more.
- How would the school find a location for the playroom?
- Where would the money for the playroom come from?
- Is there a demand for a playroom?
- Would video/computer games be allowed in school?
- Can cell phones be used in the room?
- Who would supervise and keep order in the game room?
Young entrepreneurs, Shahar and Shira, answered those questions:
The invention: A hybrid pencil-pen
A pencil that can, with a touch of a button, turn into a pen and vice versa.
- How would the pencil tip turn into the tip of a pen?
- Are there two holes in the hybrid pencil-pen? One of the ink and one of the led, perhaps?
The young entrepreneur, Afik, answered these questions:
The invention: Electric Bag
A bag with a small, built-in motor that can, with the touch of a button, easily open or close. The bag would help people whose hands are full.
- How would the bag open and close by itself?
- Where would the electric portion of the bag come from?
- Is the bag safe?
The young entrepreneur, Roei, answered:
Initiative: School Luncheonette
A luncheonette with hot plates for school students. A child who does not have a warm meal waiting at home may come to the luncheonette, as so do students who want to change up their breakfast.
- When would the students eat there?
- Where would we get groceries from?
- Where would we get a cook?
- Are we prepared for a Kosher certificate? (Roughly 2,000 NIS a year)
Young entrepreneurs, Noah and Geffen, answered these questions:
The invention: Shoes that lift us
Electrical shoes that would lift us so that we no longer need to climb stairs, and we could arrive at different locations quickly and without much effort.
- How would the shoes lift people?
- What kind of voltage is required to lift a person?
- Who needs this? (Who is the target audience?)
- Would the shoes work like an elevator? Would the shoes be able to lift people several floors high?
- How would the shoes lift people sets of stairs?
- What would happen to the shoes when it rains?
The young entrepreneur, Roei, answered these questions:
The project idea: A kiosk at school
Establishing a kiosk at school that sells sweets and other things that children love.
- How would we build a kiosk at school?
- Where will the food come from?
- Who will prepare the food for the kiosk?
- Who will operate the kiosk?
- When will the kiosk be open?
The young entrepreneurs, Amichai, Ofek, and Ido, replied the questions:
The project: Plot for every class
Assigning a plot in the schoolyard for each class so that each class can play every day at recess in its own field.
The question asked:
- From where will we get a plot for all classes in school?
Step 5 - Following the Questions Asked
The questions asked caused some of the young entrepreneurs to have second thoughts about their project ideas.
Some young entrepreneurs returned with answers to the questions, while others decided not to continue developing their ideas.
At that point, it was proposed that all students take part in any project they like. Even if a project was not a particular student's idea that student could take part in it. Every student had the opportunity to participate in one or more of the entrepreneurial projects presented.
At the same time, we checked whether these ideas had already been realized, and if so, did this prevent us from implementing them.
We found that in 2006 a microwave that is also a TV was sold (See this page). Together, we asked ourselves, why do we not see this product on the market? We raised various theories and Lia, the young entrepreneur who raised the idea, decided to improve the existing invention, and thus not to abandon the idea.
We also decided that it is probably not practical to develop electric shoes to lift us because it would take a lot of electrical power to lift a person's weight and it would be difficult for anyone to wear shoes that were so heavy. But, we found that this idea can be implemented in a different way like in this video:
Roy, the student who conceived the idea, decided that the shoes would have sprung on the bottom, and the effect of the quick and easy walk will remain this way.
However, we found that these shoes already in the market.
The following ideas were abandoned at this point due to the questions raised and the checking results.
Step 6 - Approval of the School Principal
The school principal, Ronni Shasha, and her deputy Sarah Bahar looked at the different ideas for projects, which the entrepreneur students decided to promote, and gave their comments on each idea:
- A microwave that is a TV - a great idea! Do the entrepreneur students know how to put it into practice?
- An intercom that calls the guard - the guard should always be near the gate, and if he is not there, then he is either touring the yard, or in the washroom, and in these cases, there is no point in calling him.
- A T-shirt for every size - a great idea! They should visit a designer/fashion designer for guidance regarding this idea.
- A pencil that does homework -???
- A safe knife to use - a great idea! The student entrepreneurs should brainstorm how to implement this idea.
- A playroom - a lovely idea! But our experience shows that it is challenging to keep it ordered. They should think of a game place for smaller groups so that it is possible to keep an eye on all students involved.
- A pencil that turns into a pen - a nice idea. Do student entrepreneurs know how to implement it?
- Electric bag - there is room to clarify this idea; parents may help to implement it.
- Buffet at the school - the school is not prepared to establish a buffet for students.
- A kiosk at the school - a nice idea, but candy cannot be sold at school. The school PTA does not allow selling goods for money in the school.
Following the feedback from the school management, we were left with the following ideas:
Step 7 - Moving Forward with the Ideas that Approved
We moved forward with these ideas. At first, we held a brainstorming session to decide if we knew how and if we could implement the ideas.
The insights from the discussion:
Ideas that remained within a conceptual framework:
A pencil that does homework - We concluded that theoretically, it is possible to realize the concept. Some devices can read written material and understand the content (like Quicktionary that identifies text and translates it). So in using this technology, one can read the questions and understand them, upload them to Google, and Google will find the answer and then print the answer since there are pens that know to print. This invention is possible to implement, but it needs knowledge and resources that we don't have.
A safe knife - The students showed interest in this idea because everyone was cut from a kitchen knife sometime or saw someone cut. We thought it might be possible to implement this idea by using heat knife blade sensors, which would identify body temperature (within the finger). Once the knife blade got too close to the finger, a cover will pop up and cover the edge, and the person would not get cut. The reaction speed of the sensors should be very fast. We concluded that this is possible, but at the time, we don't have the knowledge and resources needed to carry out the project.
A pencil that turns into a pen - We concluded that we have to consult with experts bout how to implement this technique. We also have come to the conclusion that in the short time remaining until the end of the school year, it will be challenging to implement the project.
Ideas for which we sought the help of parents and their advice
There was a meeting with the parents of the entrepreneur students during education week. We shared with the parents the process that we went through during the year and asked for their help and advice on how to implement the following ideas:
Microwave that is a TV
The idea was presented to the parents even though someone had already thought of it. We told the parents how we asked ourselves about why we haven't seen it in the market. The parents expressed their opinion on the matter. It turned out that the father of the entrepreneur student could help her in implementing the project, and they decided that together they would try to realize it.
This idea was presented to the parents as well. Some thought it was not necessary, and others liked it. There was someone who improved the concept by suggesting that it also be implemented in baskets that are sold in retail chains.
Ideas We Put Into Practice
A shirt for any size
(Click on the link to read about the project in details).
Yair, the owner of the idea, sketched a drawing of the shirt as he saw it in his mind.
The entire entrepreneurial group went to visit with a fashion designer, Rotem Eyal, the owner of the "Boo designer clothes" to hear her professional opinion on the matter.
We asked Orit Barshi, owner of the studio Genesis, for designing dresses to help us make the idea of the shirt for any size into an actual product.
In light of the parents' feedback, we decided to change the original idea. We gave up on the idea of a single playroom for the whole school because we realized that it would be challenging to cope with supervising a large number of students. We also thought it would be difficult to make sure to arrange the games and return them to their place each day. We decided to set up a play area in each classroom, and the educators would choose students to look after the order and to share the games between the children.
This is a presentation of the project and its successful execution:
Besides, we decided to implement the idea in a further way. Participants of the Entrepreneurship for Kids program will help students from grades 1st and 2nd in a day of playing mind games. We asked and got the school administrator's support.
This is a summary presentation of the project:
The original idea for this venture has also changed. Despite the children's affection for sweets, we realized that we needed to change the mix of products sold in the kiosk. They have to fit the spirit of the school. So, the young entrepreneurs decided to sell sandwiches, popsicles, and drinks. Also, to cope with the constraint of not being allowed to sell for money, we decided that the sale would be for bottles on which there is a refund of deposit.
This is a presentation that summarizes the project:
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- Experiences from the program - part II
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- Projects carried out by kids - part II
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- Children's ideas for projects - part II
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