After a busy first week, taking lessons, orienting ourselves around Cambridge, bowling, cultural exchange at a local international school, visiting King’s Chapel, and trips to London and Brighton, students had their own, private relaxing day on Sunday. Then, it was time for project week!
During the final week, students from regular and honors joined together for an innovation project. In groups of 3-4, students had to come up with a new product or service, along with the design, its market potential, a sales pitch, and other supporting materials.
To begin, students learned about Kickstarter, the crowdfunding site. They watched a few videos and took notes about getting the audience’s attention. Then they watched an episode of Dragon’s Den, where people introduced a product to wealthy business people then asked them to invest in their business.
After thinking about the two approaches, students had a few days to get prepared. There wasn’t much time as we went bowling again on Tuesday night and visited the nearby city of Ely, and Ely Cathedral, on Wednesday. Even so, students were ready to go by Thursday morning.
In one room, two teachers played the big-money investors. Students gave their presentation, then they were asked tough questions about their product, its market, its competition, the cost of manufacturing, etc. In the second room, there were four groups. Students from all over Bell School visited the classroom. They were each given three 100-pound tickets. After walking around all the stands, they would choose who they would like to invest in.
That evening, Bell School held an International Party. Bell has students from all over the world, and many brought food, snacks, and games. We were able to repeat some of the games we taught at the International School the previous week. In addition, our students put on some amazing performances. We had dancing, kendo, and the highly energetic Soran-bushi.
Everything was a great success, and there was a lot of praise for the presentations. On Friday morning, the winning teams were announced. The team that received the most funding was a new kind of band-aid. They won on the merits of their product, but also because their presentation was so energetic and entertaining. They really thought about what they were trying to sell, who would want it, and how they would be noticed.
After the excitement of the prizes, we had a small certificate and graduation ceremony, and a photo shoot on the grounds. We then went into town for the last time. This time, it was to go punting on the river. After a few unlucky days with rain, this afternoon, we were finally super lucky. The weather news had forecast rain all week, then that morning – sunshine!
All in all, it has been a great two weeks. Students learned a lot, challenged themselves in new ways, and developed new international friendships we hope they will keep for a long time.