Capstone Innovation Experiences 2021-22

KC STEM Alliance offers experiences designed to inspire and motivate Project Lead The Way (PLTW) engineering and biomedical science senior capstone students toward excellence; recognize and reward a job well done; and help students with innovative projects connect with resources and mentors in the business community.

Digital Content Library

This series of videos produced in partnership with STARTLAND is housed on Startland’s YouTube Channel. The series takes students through the design process so they can make it real!

Guide to Video Content

VIDEO TITLE Use it …
What does it mean to “make it REAL”? As you begin your project! Start here : )
Design Thinking 101 To get a big picture view of design thinking
Finding a Problem Worth Solving

Find a Problem Worth Solving Companion

If you’re trying to figure out which problem to solve. Watch the companion video for tips from local entrepreneurs!
Determining Frame and Focus To figure out the parts of a problem to solve for users.
Building Empathy for Users To further understand the people whose lives you want to affect with your solution
Organizing Your Data To help you decipher your findings once you have completed interviews, observation or surveys
How to Create a Project Management Plan To help you and your team get organized and ready to tackle your project
How to Define the Problem To break down the problem you’re trying to solve for others
Ideate To come up with solutions for your problem
Prototype To help you figure out what you should prototype first when you’re ready to build a first version of your idea
Test To help you plan how to test with users once you’ve built your prototype
Iterate To make adjustments to your idea based on feedback from your main users

Mentor Connections

Pitch It as You Build It

The STARTLAND team offers “Pitch it as you build it” coaching sessions to provide feedback to teams about your projects. Sign ups will be required. Teachers will receive a registration link two weeks ahead of each session date. These include:

    • October 19
    • December 9
    • December 10
    • January 24
    • March 8
    • March 9

 

Prepare with these tips and tricks from STARTLAND

Use this pitch flow to form your message.

This sneak peek at the judges’ rubric will help you do a self-check to see if you’ve built enough empathy around your targeted users and to see if your idea is novel, useful and viable according to the rubric’s suggestions.

More tips and tricks to consider:

  • As you are trying to figure out what problem to solve, consider what BIG problem in the world you are passionate about and narrow down a component of that problem that you believe you can solve.
  • Another way of ideating a problem to solve is by looking at the tedious, daily problems you or others face and consider how you might solve them.
  • If you have an idea or project you think you’d like to pursue, begin validating your idea by talking to people that experience that problem to deeply understand their pain points. This will help you see if the problem is worth pursuing.
  • Look for solutions that already exist and wonder, how can I make the current solutions better?
  • If you have chosen a problem to solve, focus on using this rubric to make your solution better.
  • Practice your pitch as often as you can with as many people as you can! This helps you understand if others’ understand the problem you are solving and the solution you are suggesting.

Getting Connected with Mentors

Teacher-Coordinated Virtual or In-Person Mentoring

KC STEM Alliance will provide a list of contacts for teacher-coordinated virtual or in-person mentoring from professionals in the engineering and biomedical fields.

The Connector

The Connector, built on the Nepris platform and managed by PREP-KC, is a convenient platform for connecting industry professionals with your students via videoconferencing. Districts with access to this tool are encouraged to use for mentor connections.

Additional Resources

Teacher Guide to Virtual Mentoring Sessions: Download this guide for ideas and resources compiled by KC STEM Alliance and STARTLAND.

Contact Teri Kriege for additional assistance with connecting to KC-area mentors.

Design Challenges & Competitions

PLTW KC–Engineering & Product Design Competition

KC STEM Alliance recognizes top PLTW design projects in the engineering capstone course through this annual competition. Competition participants submit projects online using Student Corner, a platform introduced in 2021. Practicing industry professionals then judge student works, evaluating how the projects illustrate students’ design-thinking and problem-solving capabilities.

More details to be announced in November, but plans include competitions for Engineering Design, Biomedical Research, Innovator Awards and Make It REAL scholarships, with hopes for an in-person showcase of capstone projects in spring of 2022.

PLTW KC–Biomedical Research Design Competition

KC STEM Alliance recognizes top PLTW design projects in the biomedical research capstone course through this annual competition. Competition participants submit projects online using Student Corner, a platform introduced in 2021. Practicing industry professionals then judge student works, evaluating how the projects illustrate students’ design-thinking and problem-solving capabilities.

More details to be announced in November, but plans include competitions for Engineering Design, Biomedical Research, Innovator Awards and Make It REAL scholarships, with hopes for an in-person showcase of capstone projects in spring of 2022.

Innovator Awards

Sponsored by STARTLAND, the Innovator Awards recognize innovativeness and marketability of project ideas. Applications typically are due in late spring. More details to be announced.

Make It REAL Scholarship

Graduating seniors who have completed a capstone project may apply for a Make It REAL scholarship. This is an opportunity for students to reflect on their capstone projects and Make It REAL experiences, sharing what they’ve learned along the way and how they perceive it will influence their future. Details and application link to be posted here when available.

Design Challenges

Sustainability Challenge: In this third annual challenge from Climate Action KC, students are invited to imagine a more sustainable Kansas City region through the lens of the KC Metro Climate Action Plan, which establishes goals, strategies and priorities across nine sectors and calls for a 2050 net zero greenhouse gas reduction.

Link to the Sustainability Challenge details will be posted here when available.