Some of the brightest young minds from across Langley will be flexing their problem-solving muscles and putting their entrepreneurial skills to the test this spring at the school district’s IDEA Summit and IDEA X Challenge.
For the third time, the IDEA Summit (IDEA stands for Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship, and Altruism) will be hosted by the district at the Langley Events Centre (LEC), with this year’s event set for May 9.
The summit is a marketplace, of sorts, where groups of students – from elementary to middle school – show off their creations, and market them for sale to visitors.
In past, student booths have shown off creations such as hand-warmers, cellphone accessories, home-made jewelry, and educational toys.
One year, a Grade 9 student designed a new, safer way to transport baby chicks, and now has a patent on her design.
This year, between 130 and 140 students are expected to take part in the marketplace, said George Kozlovic, who is the director of instruction for the Langley School District and one of the IDEA Summit organizers.
“It’s a huge event, and for the students, it’s pretty mind-blowing for them because sometimes the ones who shine in this event are maybe students who haven’t had the chance to shine elsewhere in their schools, so this is pretty cool,” Kozlovic said.
The students displaying their work at the IDEA Summit are chosen after impressing teachers and staff at entrepreneur fairs in their respective schools.
“It starts with them developing a product. They go through the design and thinking process, have a showcase at their school and then get recommended to go to the summit,” Kozlovic explained.
“The other piece that’s neat about it is the excitement of the younger kids, who get to bring their money and actually go and buy stuff from the older kids. They wake up for school that day and they get so excited to bring their Toonie to the entrepreneur fair,” he said.
Some teams at the IDEA Summit will also choose to enter into a pitch challenge, in which they pitch their product, Dragon’s Den-style, to a team of judges, with prizes up for grabs for things such as best product design and best booth design – among others.
A successful pitch will also be key to success at IDEA X – which is an event separate from the IDEA Summit, but similar in theme and a focus on student’s entrepreneurial spirit.
IDEA X is scheduled for May 23 at LEC, but teams are already hard at work on their projects; IDEA X launched officially in mid-January.
Each year, IDEA X teams – made up of secondary students – focus on a specific challenge.
In previous years, challenges have included topics such as “reducing plastic in the ocean.”
This year’s challenge for students is to “design a future Langley – that could exist in 50 years – which is environmentally responsible, earth-conscious, incorporates Indigenous perspectives, and honours what is important to today’s residents.”
Teams will be judged on a variety of criteria, including solutions and ideas for everything from transportation, energy, pollution control, housing, and environmental issues, among others.
“Langley has seen tremendous growth in the last 10 years, and we’ve all been impacted by those changes, and will continue to be in the years to come,” said Kozlovic.
“We are excited to see our students put their ideas into action with an eye toward improving their community and creating a positive legacy for the future.”
Between now and the IDEA X presentation day on May 23, teams will set goals, plan and work on their project, while periodically checking in with organizers to show their progress.
The final IDEA X submissions will be presented to judges, who have been selected for their expertise in a field related to the year’s challenge. In total, up to $20,000 in scholarships could be awarded, with the funds coming from the Langley School District Foundation – which collected donations from community members, companies, and organizations.
Regardless of what team walks away with the biggest prize, the goal is to inspire students to engage with the world around them, while putting their creative and entrepreneurial skills to good use, said Kozlovic.
“That’s the whole idea – to inspire people!” he concluded.
For more information, people can visit www.ideasummit35.com.
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