Grade 9 students build a design thinking mindset

First, they had to find a problem. Then they had to solve it. That’s a simplified way of describing what went on in a full-day workshop where Grade 9 students became entrepreneurs.

Tuesday, Jan. 17, was devoted to a design thinking workshop for Grade 9 St. Andrew’s and St. Anne’s students, led by Meera Balendran, Maker Educator Specialist.

In groups of four, the students identified a problem that resonated with the group. The next steps were figuring out how to create a solution, formulating an elevator pitch, and making a short film about the process.

“The best business ideas solve problems the entrepreneur has themself,” says Ms. Balendran.
One important step for all groups was identifying a persona by asking who would like their product and who would benefit from it.

Many of the personas fell in the fields of mental health, the elderly, and people with disabilities. 
A special guest for the day was Lucas Chang, founder of Y2 Entrepreneurship Labs, which provides youth from Grades 6 to 8 opportunities to build their problem-solving skills and entrepreneurial mindset. He is familiar with the school as he’s been a frequent judge at the McEwen Leadership Entrepreneurial Fair.

“I love that SAC has embraced entrepreneurship,” Mr. Chang said, looking out over Ketchum Auditorium, where the Grade 9 students were immersed in quiet chats about their personas, problems, and solutions.

A few groups presented their work and received helpful critiques from Mr. Chang. The groups spent the remainder of the afternoon finishing “elevator pitch” videos.

“This workshop gave the students a snapshot of how an entrepreneur takes an idea and turns it into a business,” Ms. Balendran says. “The concepts and ideas they learned are extensively explored later through the Grade 9 technological design course and various courses within the business department.”

It also proved an ideal exercise for collaboration between the two schools.

Story by Julie Caspersen
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