Four months ago, 44 eighth grade public school students in Chicago set out to do what very few kids are allowed to do.
They invented, conducted market research, designed and prototyped. They worked with university students and professional mentors.
The only test would be the final, and a very unusual final at that - a Kickstarter campaign, where the consumer market will give them their final grade.
It's all part of the Science and Entrepreneurship Exchange (SEE), a pilot program in its second year at Chicago's Nettelhorst School. SEE gives elementary and middle school students the opportunity to design real products, and create real startups, right in the classroom.
Dig-8, the 8th grade SEE program/curriculum, teaches students the entire invention/design/go-to-market process in just four months and helps them develop principles and skills they will use for the rest of their lives, in any profession they choose.
Split into eight teams, the students worked with product design professionals from Beyond Design, Inc. and mentors from Northwestern University to conceive and visualize their optimal solution to the problem: What do I do with my stuff when I walk into my house?
Nearly six months later, the students' product "Elephant Hooks" was born. Now, they're focused on how the world will respond to their innovation.