Think It Up, a national program for public school teachers and students grades 7-12, made a stop at George Washington High School on December 8.
Think It Up was created by the Entertainment Industry Foundation and donorschoose.org to bring excitement into learning by helping students and teachers get funding for projects they’ve designed. On average, teachers spend $500 of their own money on resources and supplies for their students, according to Misty Espinoza, associate vice president of communications for the Entertainment Industry Foundation.
Winning projects are included on donorschoose.org where the public and donors can make contributions.
Since launching in September, Think It Up has funded 600 projects across the U.S. In North Carolina students created a weather balloon and sent it into space. In New Jersey a group designed a remote-controlled car that drives itself out of a maze.
The program also launched “Think It Up Live” events where students and teachers pitch their ideas to judges, similar to the show Shark Tank, where budding entrepreneurs seeking funding pitch business ideas to a board of investors.
More than 200 students from all over Colorado gathered in the gym at George Washington for the Denver Think It Up Live on December 8. The night began with speeches by Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Denver Public Schools Board of Education President Anne Rowe, and Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene.
“It’s amazing to see collaboration between teens and adults. These student-led projects will create a great future and a great now,” Anne Rowe said in her opening address.
Groups of four students and one teacher who volunteered to be a part of the event were given a poster board with specific questions about their projects. They were given 40 minutes to complete a presentation they would pitch to judges.
During the brainstorming session, professional business mentors walked around offering expertise on how to sell ideas to the judges. A group of three seniors, one junior, and their AP calculus teacher from George Washington first discussed what matters to them at GW and what could make an impact for the larger community.
They threw out ideas to build ramps in the school for handicapped students, add drainage ditches to avoid flooding in the school basement like the damage that occurred from the massive rainfalls in 2014, or construct a new school greenhouse. As time ticked, the intensity picked up. “Let’s go, let’s keep moving,” one student said in between sips of coffee—the event was fully stocked with snacks and drinks. As the brainstorming session went on, the group decided to broaden their focus. They requested funding for a 3-D printer to make models of all their projects, which they would use AP calculus to design. They called the project “Change the World.”
After the session ended, each group had 15 minutes to pitch their idea. On this particular day, all the winning projects were half off, so if a group needed $500 for books, Think It Up shipped it for $250. The six finalist teams also got an extra $750 to kick-start their project. The winning project got $1,000.
“Change the World” was among the six teams that were chosen and received $750. “They’re all such great kids. It’s always fun working with them,” said Joseph Bolz, the AP calculus teacher who worked on the team. To view any of the projects or make a contribution, visit www.thinkitup.org.