VentureLabs

VentureLabs are "bite-sized" versions of the VentureSchool experience. These pop-up classrooms give students, parents, and community stakeholders an idea of what to expect when VentureSchool opens its doors. At the same time, the VentureSchool team is able to test pieces of our curriculum and gather feedback in order to best meet the needs of our future students. Below, you'll find overviews of past VentureLabs and accompanying resources that were shared with students. 

Fall Series

Week #2: Opportunity Recognition

In today's VentureLab, students were introduced to entrepreneurial thinkers from the crew of Apollo 13 and the team behind Conserve India to explore how opportunities to innovate can be found in unexpected places, and adding value can be done in unconventional ways. We then went back nearly 150 years to do a close reading of a text by Hans Christian Andersen called "What One Can Invent" — a story about a poet struggling to find inspiration for his work. Although the story dates back to 1869, there are still a variety of lessons for young entrepreneurs to learn about recognizing opportunity. 

Resources:

Week #1: Understanding the Entrepreneurial Mindset

In our first VentureLab of the fall season, we worked with a group of 15 middle school students to explore the entrepreneurial mindset. We then took a deep dive into two specific domains of the mindset: Creativity & Innovation and Communication & Collaboration. Students exercised their creativity skills by participating in a set of creativity challenges, inspired by IDEO. We then embarked on a journey across a "river," where teams had to exercise their teamwork and communication skills to make it safely to the other side. 

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Summer Series

    Week #6: Entrepreneurial Sprint

    In our final VentureLab of the summer season, we challenged students to reimagine the traditional lemonade stand through an entrepreneurial "sprint." Teams were given just 75 minutes to use the knowledge they've acquired over the past six weeks to develop innovative solutions and they certainly rose to the occasion. We're incredibly proud of this group of students for their hard work and we can't wait to see what else they accomplish through their high school career. This group of entrepreneurial thinkers is going places!

    Week #5: Turning Ideas Into Action

    Students built, tested, and improved paper airplane designs to put the feedback loop into practice.

    Students built, tested, and improved paper airplane designs to put the feedback loop into practice.

    The following essential questions were used to guide students through this stage of the entrepreneurial process:

    • What is the feedback loop and why is it important?
    • Why is a personal pitch an essential tool for entrepreneurs to have?
    • Why is the entrepreneurial process circular? What happens after the 'launch' phase?
    • Why should an entrepreneur's work never be done?

    Resources:

    Week #4: Prototyping and Learning from Failure

    The prototyping phase of the entrepreneurial process is prime time for failure—and that's a good thing! 

    The prototyping phase of the entrepreneurial process is prime time for failure—and that's a good thing! 

    The following essential questions were used to guide students through this stage of the entrepreneurial process:

    • What is the value of prototyping in the entrepreneurial process?
    • What are methods of effective prototyping, and how do these methods play into developing a solution?
    • Why is the prototyping and feedback phase cyclical?
    • Why is important to iterate on ideas?
    • How can we shift our mindset to see failure as an opportunity for learning, rather than defeat?

    Resources:

    Week #3: Brainstorming and Creative Solution-Seeking

    Sticky notes were a-plenty during this VentureLab where students learned tools and techniques to perfect their brainstorming and creative solution-seeking abilities. Students were encouraged to ask the question "why not?" and build off of each other's ideas.

    Sticky notes were a-plenty during this VentureLab where students learned tools and techniques to perfect their brainstorming and creative solution-seeking abilities. Students were encouraged to ask the question "why not?" and build off of each other's ideas.

    Brainstorming was the name of the game during this VentureLab. Students were equipped with the tools and skills necessary to lead an effective idea-generation session. They were encouraged to think outside the box and stretch their creativity muscles through a variety of creativity challenges throughout the lab. The following essential questions were used to guide students through this stage of the entrepreneurial process:

    • What are effective ways to develop creative, boundary-pushing ideas?
    • How can potential solutions be generated with user/customer needs in mind?
    • Why is goal-setting an integral part of the brainstorming process? How can brainstorming goals be set?
    • What parameters are necessary for effective brainstorming?

    Resources:

    Week #2B: Understanding & Identifying Opportunities for Innovation (7/19/17)

    Students used the context of "reimagining the high school experience" to guide their empathy-building work during this VentureLab. Techniques for spotting entrepreneurial opportunities were then introduced to encourage students to identify aspects of their own school experience ripe for innovation. 

    Students used the context of "reimagining the high school experience" to guide their empathy-building work during this VentureLab. Techniques for spotting entrepreneurial opportunities were then introduced to encourage students to identify aspects of their own school experience ripe for innovation. 

    VentureLab students were equipped with the tools and tactics to begin turning problems into possibilities. Using empathy maps and higher-order questions, students gained an understanding of how to trace users' challenges to their root cause and clearly articulate problem statements before attempting to tackle an issue. The following essential questions were used to guide students through this stage of the entrepreneurial process:

    • What is innovation? Why is an entrepreneurial mindset essential for innovation?
    • What are strategies for turning problems into possibilities?
    • How can you best gain an understanding/empathy for the people for whom you're solving a problem? Why is this step essential to the entrepreneurial process?
    • What are strategies for building empathy and understanding potential users/customers?

    Resources:

    Week #2A: Detroit Entrepreneurial Expedition (7/17/17)

    We kicked off week #2 with an entrepreneurial expedition to downtown Detroit. Students had the opportunity to meet local entrepreneurs, explore co-working spaces, and gather inspiration for their own ventures. The essential questions we pondered during the expedition were:

    • What are entrepreneurs doing in Detroit?
    • What opportunities are available to people with entrepreneurial ideas in Detroit? How do unique physical spaces contribute to entrepreneurs' ability to do what they do best?
    • Why is Detroit a great place to be an entrepreneur?
    • How is the entrepreneurial ecosystem contributing to the Detroit economy?

    Where We Went/Who We Learned From:

    Week #1: Intro to Entrepreneurial Thinking (7/12/17)

    The umbrella served as inspiration for our first VentureLab of the summer. Students were challenged to think of how to improve the umbrella experience for a variety of user groups. 

    The umbrella served as inspiration for our first VentureLab of the summer. Students were challenged to think of how to improve the umbrella experience for a variety of user groups. 

    The first VentureLab of the summer series was all about introducing students to the entrepreneurial mindset. We used the following essential questions to guide learning and develop a foundation that will allow us to continue to grow as entrepreneurial thinkers in the coming weeks:   

    • What is an entrepreneur? What is the entrepreneurial mindset?
    • What are the components of the entrepreneurial mindset? Why is each important?
    • Who are some entrepreneurial thinkers in Detroit? What do they do, and what impact have they made on the greater community?
    • How can individuals strengthen their respective entrepreneurial mindsets?

    Resources: