This month, we launched our series of pop-up classrooms called VentureLabs. These after-school workshops allow student participants to sample VentureSchool’s unique curricular offerings and allow our team to further refine our curriculum and instructional model before we open our doors.
VentureLabs also give potential stakeholders the opportunity to learn more about the school and give their input to help us best meet the needs of our future students. From the beginning, VentureSchool was created to be a school built with, and not for, the community it wishes to serve. We want the school design and planning phase to be as collaborative, transparent, and open as possible so that parents and community members can be as much a part of the process as possible. VentureLabs will serve as the primary platform for having those conversations.
As a school that will teach its students design thinking as a tool to aid in the entrepreneurial process, we are utilizing the same tool to build the school itself. After getting to know the community and its students, defining some of the problems that exist in the traditional school environment, and coming up with ideas for how to solve those problems, VentureLabs are a bite-sized piece of what we would like VentureSchool to eventually look like. We believe that by taking the time to understand the students we will be working with and testing our curriculum and instructional model in a low-stakes environment, we will ultimately create the best school possible.
To bring our programming to life, we have partnered with Detroit’s SAY Play Center to supplement their after-school programming with VentureLabs and we are incredibly thankful to their team for allowing us to work with such a phenomenal group of students. In future months, we hope to expand our offerings and offer the VentureLab experience to even more students through the relationships we have built with other organizations.
So far, the results have been overwhelmingly positive. We have hosted lessons about what it means to think like an entrepreneur, how to identify opportunities for innovative thinking, and the importance of understanding those for whom you’re creating a solution before you actually create one. All of these lessons have been infused with core academic content, and case studies about Detroit entrepreneurs that have exposed students to possibilities in a variety of fields. For example, we used the story of Pashon Murray and her company, Detroit Dirt, to relate to topics such as plant biology, economics, and mathematics. Students had the opportunity to participate in an urban farm challenge that put their knowledge to the test by designing a simulated farm of their own, deciding which crops to plant and sell, and how their farm would outshine the competition.
While we have seen great results so far, there is still much work to be done. Throughout the duration of this school year and over the summer, we will continue to host VentureLabs and improve the student experience in an effort to ultimately make VentureSchool the best it can be. Interested in joining us, or have any ideas to make VentureLabs even better? Email us here.