Saturday, November 20, 2010

Junior Achievement Innovation Camp

I'm not the best in the world at giving context, so if you want a little more information, read here.

The following post is a summary of my notes, which were taken directly from thoughts. Coherency is not likely. Times are rough--I have more specifics, but I simply wrote the time down whenever I glanced at my watch, so it's more consistent to just write down the estimates.

8AM We were all ushered into a room after finding the building--which wasn't the easiest task, but once you found the right building via a one-block-ish radius of trial and error, there was a great big Junior Achievement sign in green. Breakfast included much fresh fruit, many pastries, and fruit juice. I was rather nervous about meeting the people at my table, but a young man--whom I'll call V due to lacking permission to use his name--started a conversation with me, and it got better from there.

This was the first Innovation Camp at HP, so that was cool. The music was rather random; it sounded like someone had looked through the top songs on iTunes with some unknown rules in mind.

They asked for some people to interview about the event, and encouraged us to talk about the event to our friends, and make posts on facebook/twitter/our blogs (hi).

Then they went over the main activity of the day. We would have to make a business plan, write a concept paper (what you might hand off to someone who needed to take over the project temporarily) and a Powerpoint, along with a three minute presentation to go along with it (our sell). The former was due rough at 11:30 and final at 2:00; the rough Powerpoint was due at 11:30 as well and the final at 3:00, along with our final presentation.

After came the icebreakers. We tore our elephant faces without opening our eyes. I tried to make eyes but ran out of time since we only had thirty seconds, a few others did, too, but not many succeeded.

We found our groups, which were assigned by the animal stickers on our ID holders. I was an anteater, and V was in my group, along with another person, and two more who would show up after the icebreakers. We made a tower out of only paper. That means no tape, no glue, no pins. Another team won by a hair--not over us, they were a level and an eighth over us, but only an eighth over another.

We were pointed to a facebook page for JA, and started brainstorming ideas for the prompt given. The prompt, by the way, was intentionally vague:
If you are given a chance to start a social enterprise to address a societal challenge, what would you do?

Explain: the product or service you would offer, the challenge it would tackle and how technology would help you achieve your goal.
The challenges we came up with were class divisions, drug abuse, crime, obesity, health care and (teenage) stress. We thought of a few different center-type projects, an settled on a teen center/rec center/"growth and wellness center" (I couldn't think of a good name, all right?). The idea was that teens would be working with teens, so the focus would be on teens teaching each other sports, peer tutoring, teaching each other to work in the garden, etc. There would be a library/study room, a cafeteria, a garden, a sports room, a learning center (tutoring), and a fun room. We decided on the T.Y.G.E.R. center, though didn't quite settle on what that stood for until a while later.

We split into groups to finish what we had left, since we only had thirty minutes left. I gravitated toward the most down-to-earth stuff--what do we need, why do we need it, etc. Not that I was the only one, or that that was all I did; it's just what I preferred. Our professional in the field that was going to help us showed up at 11:28, when we were mainly typing, and so was more help on the cleanup than the rough draft--which makes sense.

There was a countdown from 10 during the last 10 seconds, probably to avoid conflicting watches.

Lunch was served at 11:30, and was heavy. Good thing, too, considering most of us were twisting our heads around new ideas and quite a few of us were working on little sleep. If you can't get energy from A, B's not a terrible bet. I had a clif mojo bar and turkey wrap (as opposed to sandwich), which came with pasta salad and peanut butter cookie.

The table was quiet, so I people watched. Everyone looked thoughtful, and was comparing ideas, moving from place to place, or off in their own head.

A young woman I'll call L struck up a conversation about nothing much.

Speech time! A man from Dreamworks came over and spoke about Megamind, which one girl shouted out was, "Friggin' awesome!" so that was fun.

A new speaker, who was a self-professed geek and talked bout how he had been in movies/audio stuff a long time, and been with Dreamworks specifically about three years. He went over how 3D movies are made, and the difference between 3D and stereoscopic 3D. For those curious, 3D means the animators are working with 3D models, stereoscopic 3D is what most people call 3D, where the images appear to come near you. He went into a lot of technicals I found interesting but that would take too long to go into.

Random bits: Storyboards are still drawn by hand, by the way. The technology is specifically designed to facilitate that. And in How to Train Your Dragon, every dragon's flame was unique. C++ is still common. Animators look at how the voice actors act when animating, for realism and to see how person X got Y emotion.

Oh, and he said that literally everyone at Dreamworks is working on a script on the side, so you get readings all the time.

We met our advisers, and took a group photo.

1PM Back to work.
We went over how to get ideas communicated--basic, but good to hear aloud. If you talk a lot, step back, if you talk little, step up. We pressed the idea of it being a safe haven, and tried to figure out who would invest. Also figured that a 3-minute presentation, 180 seconds, needs to be planned down to the second.

We ended up going back and editing the acronym several times, but what we settled on was Technology Youth Growth Empowerment Rejuvenation. It occurs that growth was a pun--the teens and the garden.

Advertising seemed to be a pretty good point to push, especially since a sufficiently popular center would have infinite advertising potential, especially to a group like HP which advertises to just about anyone who could want a computer--a lower and higher age with each year.

Then it was 2PM

Then we took a break and went back to the room where we'd had breakfast and lunch, and would give our speeches. I shared with one rather nervous girl who would have to close the presentation the great secret of public speaking: "Thank you for your time."*

TECHNO (another acronym, didn't catch it) which had a pay-per-bid system I thought was interesting. You pay, not just when you win, but for each bid you make. This tends to improve profit margins.


SmartVision talked about connecting teachers in first and third world countries via smartboards.

The next group started out with a picture from 2012, and designed a virtual reality which reflects how the world will be if one keeps using this much energy, and gives you points--leaderboards. There was a nice contrast, one group member was upbeat and attention-grabbing, the rest were calm to the point of shyness.

The next group talked about putting touchscreens in desks. This would put all the textbooks there, and make the classroom paperless.

Zzz Band (pronounced Zz-zz band) talked about their band, which would tell one one's heart rate, cholesterol, all that good stuff. It would have a customizable design, and be marketed to teens.

Helping Hands was about teen pregnancy and would be on facebook and twitter. Incidentally, we almost called ourselves Helping Hands, that would've been awkward.

Education.reThought talked about eco-desks and Tablets would allow school without physical presence (if sick).

BAM was a social network.

Inspired would focus on cyberbullying, phoneline.

Nutrivend was about a vending machine that would give you a customizable salad in a sealed and cool vending machine. Not pre-packaged nor with preservatives, as a salad bar would be.

Change the Cycle--helping bullied and stopping bullies from occurring.

5:30 PM Dinner
I had chicken, rice, a roll s'mores pie, and a green bean, then a sour green apple fruit snack.

Awards Ceremony
Announced that we were 73 kids from 19 schools. The top five were: the 2012 group (which emphasized our relative intelligence in comparison to the rest of the world), TECHNO (the soft money payback in advertising), Zzz Bands--which was the only group to finish on-time, Nutrivend, and Education.reThought.

Rich Friedrich came up and spoke about how our generation has some novel stuff, and we need to know we're the first globally connected generation.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we have run out of money. It is time to start thinking." --Sir Ernest Rutherford.

Third place: Nutrivend (HP backpacks)
Second place: TECHNO (HP backpacks, I think they had something but I couldn't see)
First place: Zzz Band (HP backpacks, mugs filled with candy, and netbooks)

We all got door prizes/goodie bags filled with: a water bottle, a "UFO logo"--it floats, illusively--a lanyard, a pencil, a USB stick, two vouchers for The Tech Museum of Innovation, and 50 free prints from Snapfish.

Then I went home, finished my homework, and fell asleep with a thud muted by the mattress.

*I came up with two more later, by the way: "Hello, my name is," and roll with it.

This post written in an hour and a half.

No comments:

Post a Comment

© 2009-2013 Taylor Hobart