The students at this international school in Singapore are showing us all that their future’s so bright, they’ve gotta wear shades! The world as we know it today will be very different for our children in the future. This is a concept that GEMS World Academy (Singapore) is currently leading with in its learning, including the recent launch of its first-ever Innovation Week. The best bit? This idea for the event was pitched by a student!
Sam Poder, who’s in Grade 9 at the school, came up with the idea to launch an Innovation Week. The aim? To help accelerate innovative thinking and creativity. Sam pitched his idea to the Head of School together with his friend Diego and got full support from the Education Leadership team. He then forged partnerships with the Halogen Foundation, Free Software Foundation and Github. These relationships helped to provide students from GEMS (Singapore) with unique opportunities to learn about technology and develop transferable skills, and to connect them with experienced industry professionals. Oh, and they also scored some free software for the school!
Seeking future solutions
The students were tasked to identify issues related to the United Nations Global Goals. They also had look for opportunities to develop innovative solutions that could go towards eradicating these problems now and into the future.
“I wanted to create a bite-size entrepreneurial journey for students that closely replicated the one that I took with my friends,” Sam says. “We won an entrepreneurship competition and started a company that would raise thousands of dollars.”
This competition became the Innovation Challenge – the main event of the week. “We then built activities around the challenge, hoping to teach the participants the key skills needed for future innovators and entrepreneurs.”
Workshops and mentors
With the assistance of the Student Council, Sam and Diego came up with a myriad of workshops to fit around the Innovation Challenge. These included: learning how to navigate Google Sheets; experiencing what it’s like to command a 60-tonne jet airliner; and learning the programming language Python. Throughout the eight days, students interacted with industry mentors and collaborated on their ideas. They developed skills in design thinking, problem solving and entrepreneurialism.
The whole week culminated in the Innovation Challenge itself. The students brainstormed ideas and then had a chance to build prototypes based on these ideas. They learnt how to pitch from the Halogen Foundation’s COO Timothy Low in an interactive pitching workshop. Then they pitched their projects to the judges.
Sam says, “It was amazing to see the enthusiasm of these students to participate, their strong technical abilities, and the way they applied their classroom knowledge in a realworld situation.”
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