Bridging Schools and Startups

How STEM School Highlands Ranch and ChalkCast are paving the way for student led product design

Kate Migliazzo

In April and May of 2020, we partnered with STEM School Highlands Ranch to create a one of a kind collaboration to engage students in design thinking and problem solving. Over the course of four weeks, students and educators from Arickaree, Gadsden High School, Lone Star School, Mohawk Trail Regional High School, SCOTLE, and Tiger Trades Academy met virtually with our product team to conduct user interviews, synthesize research, ideate on solutions, and design new features for our product.

Working directly alongside students and educators, we immediately experienced and identified several benefits. Having no formal training in education ourselves, our team gained a deep understanding of educator goals and motivations. We also collected valuable feedback from students, many of whom thought of ideas that never occurred to us.

Our own Director of Engineering, Alex Artushin explains how web applications are built to the students
"What I saw this morning was REAL learning, students engaged in joyful collaboration, teachers in partnership with industry, and industry gaining valuable perspective."
- Gregg Cannady, STEM School Highlands Ranch

For students, our collaboration was an opportunity to team up with peers from all over the country and the world, including Jaipur, India, the Denver suburbs, rural Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Colorado (where we witnessed the birth of a calf!). Additionally, students took part in a real life product development cycle, from user research, sketching, wireframing, and prototyping. They found value in the experience and shared their thoughts with the team afterward.

Students showcased wireframe design concepts for our application and generated valuable discussion.
"I want to be an entrepreneur in the future; We all got to go through the Crazy 8s process and develop, share, and receive feedback on the ideas that we had."
- Lakshmi, STEM School Highlands Ranch
"It was amazing, I got to know about other students’ ideas and thoughts."
- Varahi, SCOTLE
"This gave me inside experience on how companies function, especially startup companies. Even better, we were given the chance to help with the design process… a rare opportunity."
- Mishika, STEM School Highlands Ranch
"I learned that before making a product, we should focus on user needs."
- Harshvi, SCOTLE
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