Skip to main content

Students Solve Real-World Problems and Take Steps Toward Real-World STEM Entrepreneurship

FlexFactor® kicked off the 2018-2019 school year with four Project Lead the Way (PLTW) classes from Campbell Union High School District (CUHSD) in California. Students in the capstone PLTW class, Engineering Design and Development (EDD), put their research and design chops to good use as they built out their FlexFactor product concepts to solve real-world problems.

This is CUHSD’s second year of leveraging the FlexFactor program to supplement the PLTW pathway. During the capstone class, students spend all year researching, designing, and testing a solution to a problem they identify, ultimately presenting their project (“final pitches”) to a team of industry engineers.

NextFlex FlexFactor Project Lead the Way CUHSD - Final Pitches

As a culmination to a class, Engineering Design and Development, students pitch their entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of industry experts.

FlexFactor adds an element of entrepreneurship to the PLTW pathway, requiring students to work cross-functionally to ensure the technical features of their product are not isolated from market needs. FlexFactor’s inclusion of business model elements ensures students emerge from the program aware of the wide range of considerations required to successfully use technology to solve user needs and build practical solutions to real-world problems.

The final pillar of FlexFactor is the familiarization of the education and career pathways available to students as they finish high school. This is accomplished through both industry and higher education engagement opportunities at local companies and local colleges.

Parent Gina Ashe attended one of the final pitch events and commented that the experience had a marked effect on the students:

“It was evident in their presentations that they spent a lot of time doing research and organizing their thoughts. Not only is that experience above and beyond what I’d ever expect my kids to be doing at this level in their education, but also to have access to the panel of experts brought in honestly blew my mind. The insight they received from the NextFlex staff and each of the panelists was absolutely invaluable. It really pushed them to think at a much higher level than they are used to. That was really a very unique experience.”

Project Lead the Way instructor Gina Bui-Le explained that the FlexFactor program helps achieve CUHSD’s goal “to home-grow engineers, scientists, technologists, business professionals, and effective contributors for Silicon Valley specifically and for our society in general.”

NextFlex FlexFactor Project Lead the Way CUHSD students

Students from California’s Campbell Union High School District worked as a cross-disciplinary team to develop tech-oriented solutions to real-world problems proposed through the FlexFactor program.

The FlexFactor platform uniquely combines STEM, business/entrepreneurship, as well as education and career pathway familiarization using a project-based learning approach. Ultimately, what FlexFactor delivers to students is an understanding of how to approach and solve real-world problems, and a belief in their ability to participate in solving the biggest challenges of our time.

Interested in learning more? Contact NextFlex Deputy Director of Workshop Development Emily McGrath.