This post was written by Catherine Uong, Co-Founder of Doozey Game, Operations Intern at DevBootcamp, and Program Coordinator of USC Stevens Center for Innovation.
On April 11, Startup Weekend Education Mountain View will be turning the spotlight on the people who know most about schools – the kids! New York City launched this youth-centered format earlier this year, but for the first time, the Bay Area will be creating a space for both middle school kids and adults to collaborate and bring kid-centric ideas about education to life!
Curious as to why it’s important to involve kids in the education innovation process, I went ahead and interviewed Chris Chiang, the Lead Organizer for the event, a history teacher and technologist at Sacred Heart Middle School, and a School Board Trustee for the Mountain View Whisman School District.
Why is it important to give middle school kids the opportunity to play a leading role in the 54-hour event?
After my experience at participating in Startup Weekend Education, I wanted students to get involved too. Students often find startups and technology intimidating. So I felt it was the right time to get kids introduced to the space. Many kids have lived around these tech companies their whole lives but have no idea how they work. By letting them participate in a Startup Weekend Education, we can give kids a window into this world.
I think it’s important to have youth at the center of this event, because the student-teacher relationship is a reciprocal relationship. We can help introduce kids to STEM and entrepreneurship, but also help introduce adults to what kids know about schools.
Also, it’s more clear than ever that kids want to do something like this. For our event, we capped our student tickets at 60, but we sold out of those tickets in less than 48 hours. It’s a sign that kids want to get actively involved in building solutions for education!
In startups, we often talk about the user and user validation. Who knows schools better than students? I think the tech community can really benefit from having the student voice present to answer the question: “What would kids do?” By having the kids create the educational solutions that they would use, I think it will be a meaningful learning experience for everyone involved.
How were middle schoolers recruited for the event? And why middle schoolers, instead of high schoolers?
Many of our principals and educators reached out to kids at their schools to participate in the event. We wanted to get the kids that didn’t put limits on themselves yet. High schoolers often times have pre-existing notions, as many adults do, that may inhibit how “out-of-the-box” they’re willing to think. So we decided to reach out to middle schoolers, an age group we thought would be more apt to really thinking creatively.
What is your vision for how your event will impact the greater Startup Weekend Education community?
A model has not yet been created for getting kids involved at Startup Weekend Education, so we would like to test things out and see what works for both kids and adults. Eventually, I would love to see the educational community outside of Mountain View utilize this model that we create.
Find Out How It Goes
You can get play-by-play updates on Chris’s kid-focused Startup Weekend Education event taking place this weekend by following the action on Twitter.