The 20% Project Pitch
STEM and STEAM students in middle school and high school are invited to participate in a 20% project. In November, students who are developing their ideas as part of this program came to the LVUSD district office and presented their ideas to a panel of judges in front of their parents, teachers, and other community members. The panel gave each presenter valuable feedback that they will use to improve their projects, and they will return for a second presentation later in the academic year.
Faculty members Karen Lagola, Cassie Kaminski, Michael Yeung, and Karrie DeMarco serve as advisors to the 20% project students
Twenty Percent projects have their roots in employee practice from 3M back in the 50s; however, they gained popularity in recent decades through Google using them extensively throughout their organization. Essentially, Google enables their engineers to spend one day a week working on projects that aren't necessarily in their job descriptions. Employees can use the time to develop something new, or if they see something that's broken, they can use the time to fix it. At 3M, 20% time yielded such popular products as masking tape and Post-its, and for Google nearly all of the services we use today, like GMail, Google Docs, and Google Sites, were once 20% projects.
The key opportunities for students in 20% projects are the autonomy and choice that they bring, which foster creativity, innovation, and intrinsic motivation and require students to exercise extensive cross-curricular skills to complete. Students, either individually or in teams, must develop an idea or invention, research resources and costs required, develop their own timelines to implement, and actually create the idea or invention. The process is not unlike that which any entrepreneur might go through to start a business, invent and sell a product, etc.
Aiden from LCMS presents his cooking show idea
The presentations were stunning and the passion of the students was infectious as they shared their ideas and plans. From online cooking channels and philanthropic fundraising to apps and products, the ideas were truly amazing and the students’ skills, thoughts, and expertise in their area of interest were clearly evident. After the event, one of the panelists noted “This is what school should be like."
At LVUSD, it already is.
The following students presented their 20% Projects to the panel in November:
Aiden from Lindero Canyon Middle School (LCMS)
Echo from LCMS
Wesley from LCMS
Kasey from LCMS
Ali & Gabe from LCMS
Ben from LCMS
Nick from LCMS
Zachary from A.C. Stelle (ACS)
Isabella from ACS
Ryan & Aaron from ACS
Madeline from ACS
Dahlia & Amy from ACS
Patrick from Calabasas High School (CHS)
Ty from CHS
Ethan & Amitai from CHS