three people standing outside a school smiling
Clear Creek interim Superintendent Mike Gass (left) teacher Dacia Kelly (middle) high school principal Chris Gould (right) outside high school in Evergreen Oct. 12. Credit: Chris Koeberl

Picture the ABC network show “Shark Tank” and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s being developed by Career Connections Coordinator Dacia Kelly in the Clear Creek district.

Four teams of two students will spend the school year developing, manufacturing and marketing products of their own design in Kelly’s IncubatorEdu class at Clear Creek High School.

They will be working with local business leaders who have signed up to volunteer as a Coach, Mentor or for the Board.

By course definition a Coach will:

  • Teach in the classroom
  • Subject matter expert lending skills to teach specific portion of curriculum

Business Mentor:

  • Offer the team strategic guidance and wisdom

Board Member:

  • Offer teams strategic evaluation at Pitch events
  • Funding decision makers for MVP and Final business investments

The funding decision includes $2,500 to the winning design team to implement and market their real-world project.

On the drawing board right now juniors Emerald Buckly and Ocean Caplan-Holdgrafer are designing a “self-defense woman’s shoe.” The idea, say the designers, is to offer a woman a self-defense tool concealed in a woman’s normal shoe.

Clear Creek High School juniors Emerald Buckly and Ocean Caplan-Holdgrafer pitch idea for new product in IncubatorEdu class Oct. 12. Credit: Chris Koeberl

Senior James Ryan is working on a “heated hoodie” that uses a cell phone charger for power.

student standing in front of class speaking
Clear Creek High School senior James Ryan pitched idea for a “heated hoodie” in IncubatorEdu class Oct. 12. Credit: Chris Koeberl

Sophomore Maggie Gothman and junior Cara North are designing a trash can with multiple liners to cut the time of replacing a trash bag every time. 

two high school students standing at front of class speaking
Clear Creek High School sophomore Maggie Gothman(right) and junior Cara North (left) pitch an idea for development in IncubatorEdu class Oct. 12. Credit: Chris Koeberl

The self-directed style is key, according to Kelly.

“It immediately brings relevance and their interest to the forefront because they choose it and so they’re exploring out this idea they had in the form of this process,” Kelly said.

The Clear Creek district has partnered with “IncubatorEDU,” a national entrepreneurial program for curriculum guidance. It’s supported by the Schools Foundation and the Daniels Fund, Kelly said.

The concept has the support of Clear Creek High School Principal Chris Gould and Superintendent Mike Gass who attended a “ribbon cutting” for the classroom Oct. 12.

“It’s about that critical thinking piece, it’s about communication, it’s about adapting. So much of our learner profile fits with this course,” Gould said.

“It’s about keeping up and being innovative and being a leader,” he continued. “It means if you’re standing still, you’re probably way behind, so these kids are getting an advantage.”

Second-semester students should also be eligible for college credit due to Kelly’s recently earned Master of Business Administration degree, she said.

Self-directed learning and passion of process is what Kelly said she believes will motivate students. 

“In this class, I have a really good mix of kids that traditionally excel at school and kids that struggle a little bit more,” she said. “And with the thought process, it evens the playing field in this course.”

The “competition” will culminate in May with one team named the winner and awarded the $2,500 prize money for development.

“It’s an ongoing process and we will be looking for community and business partners to work with us as coaches and mentors,” Kelly said.

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