Game Changers and Team Work

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Game Changers and Team Work

Last summer, at the game Changers Camp, they met for the first time. There were about 15-20 teens attending each of our classes. Some found out that they went to the same school but didn’t really “meet.” They walked in the same corridors and ate in the same cafeteria and some were even in the same class but didn’t really “meet.” They didn’t have to. In mainstream education, moving up to the next level means surviving standardized tests—individually.

In contrast to today’s business world, we are increasingly expected to learn to work with fellow professionals and use leadership mindsets in TEAMS. Innovative companies like Google and Facebook promote “open work spaces” so peers can “share ideas” and “collaborate in shaping ideas into products.” The culture of today’s mainstream education is very much the opposite of the culture of inventive and trailblazing real-world work environments. 

In the Game Changers Camp, our goal is to prepare teens to succeed in the real-world. Participants are engaged in socially-interactive lessons where they learn how to work together in teams. For example, through game activities, participants resolve fun challenges when finding themselves in situations where individual players are impacted by the other’s actions. 

Fun team play are simulations of real-world situations in the form of physical, social, and “out of the box” learning experiences. At the end of each game, the class reflects on the “team experience” with mostly laughter and connects “play experiences” to strategies for successful team work. They learn (by playing) how an individual impacts the team’s feelings and goals and how a team can choose to hurt or empower individuals.  

These team games set the tone for the design entrepreneur challenges that teen participants face in the Game Changers Summer Camp. During the intensive two-week program, they go through entrepreneurial start-up experiences where they learn-by-doing about design thinking and lean start-up activities and present pitch decks to Silicon Valley investors. 

Getting to know to know and supporting one another is key to each individual camper’s growth and empowerment. Through their participation, teen participants discover that teams may have a one big goal yet these can only be achieved with diverse abilities and the effective navigation of an individual’s contributions in a “social world.” They also learn how to build collaborative mindsets by exploring and growing one’s unique capabilities while learning from each other’s ideas. 

In the end, the product is shaped with the integration of multiple perspectives, knowledge, skills, and personalities. The Game Changers Summer Camp prepares teens to work together in teams and innovate. By engaging, these teens grow their potential as they identify gaps and formulate innovative solutions. 

In two weeks of intensive, fun, and transformative lessons and meaningful social interactions, teen participants are empowered by practicing mindsets and strategies of game-changers in the real-world.

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How can teens ages 13-17, become design-entrepreneurs?

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How can teens ages 13-17, become design-entrepreneurs?

In the summer of 2015, teams of teens ages 13-17, presented their business pitches to VCs and angel investors at the Dolphin Tank event organized by Young Outliers. The Silicon Valley audience were in awe of the high level of creativity and entrepreneurial thinking exhibited in each of the presentations. Sand Hill Road VC’s and angel investors commented: “These are totally doable business ideas! It is amazing that teens ages 13-17 can think like adult start-up teams.”

Indeed, when challenged, young people have done astonishingly “adult things.” Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire-Hathaway now owns the Hill railroads once headquartered in St. Paul, was keeping accounts for his first business at age 11. William Kamkwamba, a Malawian teen at age 14, facing poverty and famine, built a windmill to power his family’s home and became the single source of power for his community’s cell phone users.  

What do we learn from these accomplished teens?

They had a goal. They were determined. They were not afraid to fail. They were resourceful. Most importantly, they transformed obstacles into opportunities.

Michael Dell, the founder of Dell Computer was a teen when he took computers apart and observed that $600 worth of parts were sold at $3,000. He found an opportunity and created a revolutionary business model.  

Innovator-entrepreneurs ask “Why?”, “Why not?”, and “What if?”

The Game Changers Design Entrepreneur Camp engages its teen participants in hands-on and socially-interactive lessons that highlight their “unique strengths.” The camp advances innovative and analytical thinking by tapping into and elevating participants’ abilities through fun and exciting games and challenges. They learn to look at status quo from the perspective of making things better. They learn to challenge assumptions and formulate alternative ways of doing, working, learning, and living. Through their engagement in camp activities, the participants transformed into analytical, inventive, and problem-solver teens.   

When interviewed after their presentations, the Game Changers Camp participants were just as amazed at what they had accomplished. They remarked, “The activities at the Game Changers Camp were fun and nerve-wracking! Yet it was the best experience we’ve ever had! We didn’t want it to end.”

The Game Changers Design Entrepreneur Camp is transformative. In the beginning of the camp, many of the participants did not think they were passionate or interested in any project or career. At the end, it did not matter whether they were 13 or 17 years old. Teen participants discovered how to value and grow their abilities and work as teams, to shape ideas and business models. They learned to think like design entrepreneurs.

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We Are All Different

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We Are All Different

We are all different. Yet most K-12 schools teach and assess our abilities like we are all the same.  Could math learning be more powerful than one quarter worth of repetitive long division problems? Could chemistry be more enlightening than memorizing and computing formulas presented in equations disconnected from our everyday living? Can fiction and non-fiction writing be more than just writing drafts and editing grammar, punctuation, and spelling?

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Physical Exercise Makes Kids Smarter!

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Physical Exercise Makes Kids Smarter!

Change the stereotype perception of genius kids! The stereotypical smart kid prefers reading to playing sports. The stereotypical below average kid prefers sports to learning in the classroom. The fact is, these perceptions are flawed. 

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Does your child struggle with math?

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Does your child struggle with math?

Jason is 9 years old and has always struggled with math class. He procrastinates with math homework and his teacher voiced her concern that he doesn’t pay attention in class. Looking for answers, his parents checked his math notebook and found it full of drawings and barely any equations. His math notebook looked more like an art class notebook.

Jason’s parents scolded him for drawing. “Work on your math homework, stop doodling.”. However, his grades in math didn’t improve. His parents thought, “Maybe he just doesn’t have a talent for math.”.

One day, the breakthrough came.

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Happiness equals success

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Happiness equals success

About 2 months ago, I had a conversation with ten students from Gunn High School and asked them to write on post-it notes: 2 things you like and 2 things you dislike like about school. They read the post-it notes and collectively, the students organized these in columns of similar thoughts. The longest “like” column was “friends.” The longest “dislike” column and the longest column of all, was “feeling alone and incompetent.” 

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