Students will go through the Engineering Design Process from “I wish I had something that does…..” to a working prototype device that solves that problem for an actual adult market, all within this 36-week course. They will then develop a marketing plan for how to generate interest in their solution, as well as a business plan to describe how they will get it to their newly adoring public. Finally, they will come up with a product testing video to convey their solution to the world. Students can walk out of this course with a turnkey career before they even leave high school.
“In Jerusalem he made engines of war invented by skillful men to be on the towers and on the corners for the purpose of shooting arrows and great stones. Hence his fame spread afar, for he was marvelously helped until he was strong.” –II Chronicles 26:15
Where Did the Idea Come From?
This course came from Stradivarius, but that probably needs a little explanation.
The idea for this course actually came to me while I was on my way through Amsterdam Airport on my way to Kenya for a mission for my last profession.
I saw a copy of the Economist magazine on the newsstand with a cover picture of what was very evidently, a plastic violin. The caption read: “Print me a Stradivarius.”
It was an article about 3D printing (about which I knew nothing at the time), and I remember thinking two things.
First, if I could print Stradivarius violins, I could finally buy that submarine, private island, and a castle to go on it, that I had been dreaming about, but I digress.
Second, I thought: “How would a high school science class look different with one of these (3D printers) in the classroom? What could I expect the students to do then that I cannot expect them to do now?” The answer came to me: I can expect them to design, invent, prototype, test, and refine a device to solve a real-world problem!
By the time these students are 15-16 years old, they have either said themselves (or heard someone they care about say): “I wish I had something that does…….” What holds them back? In most cases, it is the lack of a production facility to prototype and test such a device or the costs associated with that process.
That printed Stradivarius changed the game in my mind.
I could have the students come up with what goes in the blank above. Then they could go through the Engineering Design Process to solve it. With a working prototype, they could test and refine it without having to rent a factory to do it!
Rounding out the process with a business and a marketing plan helps prevent the most common innovation tragedy: not going public with the solution.
So this course is designed to give the students a leg up on a career to invent the future. Thanks, Stradivarius!
What Adult Accomplishments Does This Course Coach?
- Working prototype device solving an actual market problem
- Business plan for how to get your device to market
- Marketing plan for how to generate interest in those sharing the problem
- Product testing/promotion video showing the world what your product does
- Crowdfunding campaign to fund your research and development costs (i.e. 4 x prototypes, testing, marketing costs, etc.)
What Transferable Skills Does This Course Train?
- Ability to use the Engineering Design Process to solve problems
- Ability to do market research
- Ability to do competitive benchmarking to understand what competitors are already providing the customer
- Ability to resource (fund) your own ideas
- Ability to write a business and marketing plan
What Careers Does This Course Give Me a Leg Up On?
- Entrepreneur – Average Salary: “The Sky’s the Limit!”
- Mechanical Engineer – Average Salary: $68,549 (https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Mechanical_Engineer/Salary)
- Marketing Specialist – Average Salary: $49,221 (https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Marketing_Specialist/Salary)
Why “0 Minutes”?
In talking with a number of homeschool families (and remembering my own childhood), I realized something important: families are busy! If I schedule a course to meet on Tuesdays at 9:30, then any family that has something else at that time cannot take part, and I didn’t want that. On the flip side, we have all done various self-paced, self-improvement hobbies that did not end up doing any good because there was no accountability (New Year’s Resolutions, anyone?) I decided to get the best of both worlds: Weekly accountability with daily flexibility.
The students will have assignments that they must accomplish each week. They will also interact with me and with their classmates in chat type interactions. This keeps them on schedule to actually complete the amazing accomplishments that this course coaches them through. But they have the freedom, within the week, to choose when they are going to work on the assignments. I have tried to provide enough instruction to enable the students to do the tasks that they have been assigned, but I also understand that sometimes, there needs to be some more direct instruction to clear up misunderstandings.
To accommodate this need, it will be possible to schedule “office hours” on an “as-needed” basis where I would have a live conversation with one or more students. There will be some expectations of the student when they are asking for “office hours”. I will give them questions to answer in order to make sure that I understand what their question is and can best prepare to make that time as efficient and effective as possible. Office hours will be scheduled based on mutual scheduling needs and availability, and if there seems to be a topic that everyone is having problems with, I will either schedule a class session to clear it up, or I will provide additional instructional materials.
I am committed to your student’s success. But rather than limit your family’s ability to take part in the course, I prefer to give your family the flexibility to have your child work on their schedule, as long as they are getting their work done by the Friday deadline each week.
How Would I Write This Course Up On a High School Transcript?
- You could write this up as a Science or Engineering credit by emphasizing the force flow diagrams and materials and engineering targets and tolerances that you will have to develop
- You could write it up as an Economics/Business credit by emphasizing the cost analysis, business and marketing planning, and the crowdfunding campaign
- You could write it up as an Applied Mathematics credit, depending on the nature of your device and how much mathematical modeling you had to do in order to complete your project
- You could write it up as a Marketing/Arts credit by emphasizing the technical drawing required for the Assembly Diagram, the Layout Diagram, and the Detailed drawing, as well as the product video and any graphics that you had to create for your crowdfunding campaign