What education should really look like now: partnership with Limbic Media

For the last 3 years, the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry and Limbic Media has had an incredibly strong partnership to develop high school kids into the tech talent that we need in our city, Victoria, BC.

Limbic Media is an amazing company with some of the most artistic engineers and entrepreneurs around. They provided valuable resources and mentor-ship to our young learners.

We have done some major projects over these last 3 years.

I remember the first time walking into Limbic Media’s HQ with a couple of students.  It was exactly what you would picture a startup to be.  Mad creativity happening.

Our first project with them was to develop a sensor-ed door bell.  It worked!  Kind of.  It drove the engineers nuts and they took it down.  But we did it!

Simultaneously, we were doing a project for VIATEC, our city’s tech incubator, creating a sensor-ed binocular system that showed pictures of our city for marketing purposes.  That worked too!  In fact, it was Limbic Media who referred us to the project.

During summer break that year, I met with Manjinder Benning and Justine Love, the founders of Limbic Media.  I wanted the year to be epic and huge; I wanted to integrate engineering and agile methodologies into the school.

And did we ever that year.  First, we got to work on Mason Street Farm’s aquaponics unit.  This was a complex engineering problem.  Electricity, water, and sensors are a tricky combination.  Combine that with sending critical data to a website to notify the owner of the conditions in the tanks.  Many moving parts to this project.  They and I learned to work in scrum, and Limbic provided a huge amount of engineering mentor-ship.

Simultaneously, we began work on a major passion project to design sound interactive LED cubes for VIATEC.  We created a prototype and then pitched it to Dan Gunn, the Director.  He loved the idea and gave us $3,000 to develop it.  The team sourced parts all over the world, designed the boards that got built in China, modeled the final product, 3d printed parts from their own design, learned a ton of code and manufacturing processes, and understood the paramount importance of how to work together as a team to develop a startup.

By the end of these projects, I was burned out form hardware.  Luckily, we turned our attention to software, creating a platform to stream art with the working title of “Artify”.  The team worked hard for a year and half collectively writing over 16,000 lines of code and designing countless mock ups.  We got it to MVP (minimum viable product) and we were just about to test it when the motivation to continue fell through due to questioning if the platform had viability.  The team felt it didn’t.

And that is where we have finished.  Every single kid on these projects learned tons.  They have all said so themselves.  What is most important to me is that they learned how important and powerful a small team can be.

This is exactly what I want to see in education: community connections and partnerships with local companies to develop valuable products, learn how to truly collaborate and build a startup.  It is the most valuable learning for future career prospects that a high school student can get in my humble opinion.

Indeed…

One of the students (Liam) who graduated a couple of years ago went on to electrical engineering.  Currently in his 2nd year, he had to find a work placement as part of his degree program.  It is highly competitive and all the jobs that he was looking at required a large depth of coding skills which he did not have.

He then found a placement for another local urban farm currently setting up an aquaponics unit.  The owner already has contracts to grow vegetables and herbs for the restaurants in town.  Liam looked at the requirements and he met and understood most of them through his work on the Mason Street Farm project.  He was hired on the spot and has begun his career as an engineer.

He would not have had this opportunity if it weren’t for our partnership with Limbic Media.  I have nothing but gratitude.  Together, we have developed our local young talent to enter the booming tech scene.  The Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry has a structure that allowed this partnership to happen.  I would personally like to see this happening throughout the entire province.  Contact me if you would like to learn how.

 

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