Here at Flocabulary, we believe it’s important for students to experience real-world applications of the subjects they study in school. We also know how important it was for us to have role models—people who inspired us to dream, create and learn. That’s why our co-founder and CEO, Alex Rappaport, partnered with an organization in our Brooklyn neighborhood, the DUMBO Improvement District, to create Big Idea Week.
Big Idea Week, which took place May 19-23 this year, is a project-based STEM curriculum designed to immerse students in the entrepreneurial mindset, allowing them to explore problem-solving and teamwork through innovation. This year, our fourth-grade friends at P.S. 307, a neighborhood school, started the week with a workshop led by Brooklyn-based entrepreneurs (from companies like Tattly, Pensa, BioLite and JRSportBrief), who shared their stories about the entrepreneurial process—from problem, to idea, to product. Since each company represented a tech-centric design, engineering or content-creating business, these founders served as real-life STEM role models for the students.
Thanks to our partners at Maker’s Row, another DUMBO company, we also unveiled a prototype of the PillowKet, a design from fifth grade students Jaylin Francois, Angelina DiLone and Hannah Hamilton, who participated last year’s Big Idea Week.
Throughout the week, students talked about identifying problems and brainstorming solutions in their classrooms, and split into groups to develop their own creative product ideas. To wrap up the week, students presented their ideas to us (along with other guests and business leaders, including Brian Lemond from Brooklyn United), showing off their fantastic drawings and allowing us to ask lots of questions. Some of the ideas we heard included: a combined rollerblade and ice skate, the “Double Skater”; a serpent-shaped vacuum, the “Snake Cleaning Slither Machine”; a combined car seat/walker/high chair for babies, the “Mood & Motion 3-in-1 Convertible Chair”; and many others.
This week, students are going on a field trip to visit the folks they met from BioLite and Pensa to check out their labs, and see where they develop all of their cool inventions. The students will also get a tour of Brooklyn Bridge Park, a park that sits on the edge of the East River, itself a “big idea” since it provides a new place for New Yorkers to enjoy nature in a space that was once vacant.