Post5:Innovation Project and Wimpole Farm
On Wednesday morning, we continued with the week’s projects. Everyone had really interesting ideas to work on and have started to think about the key elements of their product and their marketing plan.
The project is to address the issue of single-use products and the throwaway culture of today. Students are working on innovating a new product or idea that will reduce waste or help raise awareness of the surrounding issues. I’ve been really impressed with the ideas and how much everyone has engaged with the problem.
On Wednesday afternoon, we went to Wimpole Farm. As you can see from the pictures, the place is a beautiful manor house with stunning gardens and a working farm. After a quick introduction, everyone was free to explore the grounds. Before we went home, we took the chance to enjoy the great weather and practice a bit of the mindfulness that we had learned about the day before. With only a few days left of the trip, it seemed like the perfect time for everyone to reflect on their time in Cambridge and think about the things they still need to do and hope to achieve before they go back.
On Thursday, everyone had to have their projects finished as Friday was the big presentation day. We had students working on the talking points, students on the computers doing research, and many students colouring and cutting out paper for their posters. We had the full morning to get everything done, then after lunch, we had some time to practice for sports day a little more. It was a good practice, and everyone was looking impressive on the jump rope. After this, some students went into town, while other groups stayed behind to continue work on their presentations.
Tomorrow, we will meet the creator of Pokito, Andrew Brooks, and he will give the students some advice on their products and their presentations. Hopefully, everyone gets enough sleep tonight ready for the big day! If all goes well, and the weather is kind, we will celebrate the presentations with a graduation ceremony outside, and some punting.
Post6:Final Presentation Day, Graduation, and Punting
What a great day! The presentations were amazing. The students shared their ideas in the morning with Andrew Brooks, a prominent entrepreneur, and the inventor of Pokito, a reusable, multi-sized cup. First, he explained his story and his motivation for starting his business, then he listened to the students’ product ideas and gave them advice about their products and the delivery of the presentations.
Andrew was really impressed with the ideas, and the common advice was – start strong and make it clear what the problem you are trying to solve is. He talked a little about the ‘elevator pitch’ which is something we had covered last week. When you have a product to pitch, you should be able to explain the product, what it solves and the customers who would want it, in about the same time it takes to go up an elevator – just in case one day you happen to get on an elevator with a major investor and have one chance to pitch your idea.
From 11:30, for fifty minutes, students, teachers, office staff, and other members of Bell Language School, came to listen to the students’ ideas and ask questions. All the students were energized and engaged in the process. They quickly realized that in the real world, you can prepare how you think the presentation will go, but once you are speaking with a real crowd of people, you need to be ready to adapt. Luckily, they also found out that if you understand your idea well enough, you will be fine.
As the visitors left, they voted for the group they thought did the best. They had to think about the product, the marketing, the presentation, and how well the group worked together. I was so pleased with the positive feedback that was given. Everyone said how proud Kaetsu and the students should be of their efforts. Most people struggled to vote for just one idea, but the teachers, Ken and Tarsila, kept them to one vote.
After counting the votes, the winner was ‘OBSUGAR’. Their idea addressed the issues of the waste created with paper sugar packets, by understanding modern customers love of Instagram. Instead of sugar packets, the sugar is coated in a flavourless, dissolvable wafer paper that can be decorated with cute colours, logos, messages, anything really. Then to address the issue of hygiene, the also created a dispenser that was visually impressive and would look great on Instagram – young coffee lovers would love it! The idea had other impressive elements that the ‘investors’ or Bell School visitors, thought would make the product a great success and also achieve its goal of helping the environment.
After tidying up and the prize ceremony, we had a quick graduation ceremony and a few speeches from the teachers and the principal of Bell. It was then time to say goodbye to Bell and head to the city centre for punting.
Punting was lovely, and the perfect end to the week. The weather was great and made the punt more mindful and relaxing. After the punt, there was a little more free time before going back home and starting to pack for the return home. After buying gifts for yourself, family, friends, club, etc, packing for the way home is always a challenge.
Tomorrow we will fly back to Japan, and I know it will be hard at first to get back into the rhythm of Japanese life – especially now that summer has arrived! But I’m so happy everyone has had this experience and I’m sure they will take a lot of great memories and learning back with them.