2016

 
 

As I travel and talk to educators I always encourage them to ignite in kids the idea of turning their passions into their opportunities. I also challenge students to bring something new and needed to the world. In Ness City, Kansas I ran into a teacher and a band of students who took me up on that challenge!

It was quiet for a while as I let the kids digest my list of questions and yes...demands. I wanted my supply of suitcase podiums to be sustainable and I worried about supply chain issues so far out into Western Kansas. Moreover I wanted the kids to think of this project like a business deal and of me as their customer. After all, it was going to be me out there field testing and succeeding or struggling due to the quality of their work!


They informed me that they’d named the product the GOdium because it would always be on the GO and it was a podium. I loved the idea and told them I’d love to see a graphic soon. It was a matter of days until they shared this:

I was beginning to get excited as I knew this thing I needed was actually being built. During my travels in frequent texts, emails, and Google Hangouts with Mr. Kerr, we shared ideas for helping the kids continue their growth as young entrepreneurs. One day I realized that if they developed this product and if people wanted to buy it (which I thought would happen) the buyers would have no website on which to learn about and purchase it. In the next few days I threw together a website that looked something like this:

I met the kids in a Google Hangout and showed them the site. They seemed pleased and then I told them they had 30 days to build their own because I would take this one down. Two days later they had their own site. NONE of these kids were web designers. They simply taught themselves how and moved on! They had even purchased a domain (Innovative Packing Solutions.)

Things were beginning to cook. The kids were designing prototypes in Autocad and sending me screen shots. I’d give them customer notes and they would keep rolling.


Mr. Kerr and the kids had begun shopping the prices down for the parts they needed as well as looking for ways to simplify the construction process and save time and labor. They were looking at the bottom line and factoring in labor costs as an impactor on their price margin and potential profits.


The first GOdium was soon delivered into my waiting hands and I looked it over with interest. It was made from recycled cardboard and had wheels that removed and went neatly inside so as not to be vulnerable to airline abuse. The plan was to use file folder boxes inside (I could fit three) to help organize my clothes and gear. I paid my $135 and the really cool superintendent made sure the money went to the kids!


I took off and started traveling with the GOdium immediately, and anytime I had a problem with the product I texted pics of the situation to the students. They would consiider my challenges and make adjustments in response. I can’t tell you how great it felt to know this student company actually cared about my struggles and my need for a great, useful product that made my life easier.


I shared pictures as I traveled and I told the kids everything I could about their product’s performance. In hotel rooms it became a chest of drawers, and onstage it was my unfair advantage. To have a podium that is the same everywhere I went was reassuring. It was like the kids were with me wherever I went and I was, literally, standing behind their product.


What I continued to find amazing was that I had a partnership with an educator who was willing to take on a messy, challenging project and allow his kids to learn as they went. Maybe even more surprising was that I had a superintendent and administrators who not only allowed this budding program to happen but encouraged it all along the way! NESS CITY SCHOOLS ROCK! I yelled outloud every time the GOdium came off the plane intact.


I’ve been promoting entrepreneural learning for the last decade, but this project was actuallly fleshing out what partnerships between kids and customers who need things might look like. I love the MAKER Movement and the idea of hands on, student led learning, but to me there is something so important about adding the element of entrepreneurism if kids are going to imagine a future where creativity does not have to be seperate from employment, where problem solving skills are vital and valued.


Mr. Kerr and I are outlining an approach to opening up any classroom to this learning model. ESSDACK, the non-profit I work for, has the tools and backbone to help make such an exchange possible. If you note a certain excitement in my words, it is no accident. As a child who grew up in poverty and spent years learning financial literacy, I’ve come to believe that helping kids understand how business works might be the best gift we can bestow. The question is: Will schools open their doors to this?

The kids recently delivered the GOdium 2.0 and all I can say is: WOW! The new laminated plastic body is nearly bulletproof while being lighter at the same time! They added a powerport that brings power to the top, front of the GOdium for my devices. The wheel assembly is tougher and lighter and it has been a pleasure to travel with. I gladly handed over another $135 as they proudly told me they’d gotten an additional order from another speaker! People notice it more and more as I travel, sometimes recognizing it before they recognize me! The kids started a Twitter account for the GOdium where they have the product speaking like a person. Their strategy is to humanize the GOdium and to tell people about its life from the point of view of the product.


Watch the Twitter hashtag #GOdium to follow this journey because I know it’s far from over.


PS....


I told the kids I wanted a stool that came apart and was stored in the GOdium but was also light weight. It took a few days but this first awesome accesory for the GOdium will be in my hands on Friday. The $60 stool leaves a price margin for profit and leaves me VERY happy!


  

From the wheat fields of Western Kansas comes yet another student innovation and yet another reason for me to have hope that schools CAN let kids learn and build, invent and succeed. Want One?

                                                               Kevin Honeycuttmailto:brent.kerr@usd303.org?subject=Inquiry%20about%20the%20GOdium%20from%20Kevin's%20Blog%20Post!shapeimage_2_link_0