Inventing the future
Students from Mesa Middle School, Cherokee Trail Elementary, and Heritage Elementary dream big to create solutions for real world problems
CENTENNIAL— It’s not unusual for students to be tasked with the challenge of conceptualizing a solution to a real-world problem. However, some Douglas County students were challenged to elevate that task a few levels, developing a prototype of their solution and then presenting it to local business leaders they have never before met.
Students from Mesa Middle School, Cherokee Trail Elementary School and Heritage Elementary School gathered for their big reveal Wednesday night at the Innovation Pavilion in Centennial for the “Better Together” event.
“We want to prepare students for a future we can’t predict,” said Tony Jackowski, principal of Mesa Middle School. “We’re looking for that balance of skill acquisition and innovation, so that we’re preparing them so that they can critically think, creatively think, collaborate and also communicate.”
One of the prototypes presented was an app, still in the development stage, that can read and translate sign language to verbal language, and vice versa, created by Mel Williams and Alizeigh White-Rushing, who attend Mesa Middle School. The inspiration for the app came from Williams’ cousin, who is deaf.
“She always has to have an interpreter with her to have a conversation,” Williams said. “Sometimes she would like to be able to have private conversations on her own.”
Some of the other prototypes students presented included a chair designed for people with sensory processing disorders that allows them to safely move around and fidget, and a solar-powered compact machine that can attract and cook bugs for food for people starving in remote and impoverished regions of the world.
The Innovation Pavilion helped to bring local business leaders to the event. Mike Fitzgerald, CEO of the Denver South Economic Development Partnership, who attended the event, said, “We have to invest in a new future because everything is going to change. The people inventing what that future looks like are right here. These youngsters are dreaming.”