GCPS Partnership with VCU’s da Vinci Center for Innovation

Sometimes great things can be accomplished quickly, even immediately. At other times, it takes much longer.

Fifteen months ago (after several months of development and writing) we submitted an application for the Virginia Future Education and Environment Development Grant. We wrote the application focused on the development of a partnership with VCU’s da Vinci Center for Innovation and the possibility of an amazing, creative opportunity for our high school students.

Five months after submission we received notification that our grant was selected and $11,500 was awarded.

Fifteen months later our students in Mr. Bouwen’s Engineering class realized the benefit of the work that began as an idea in December 2013.

Mr. Bouwen’s students worked alongside graduate students at da Vinci to design and prototype a innovative electronic product from start to finish. The students leveraged the division’s technology to collaborate throughout the entire planning process. Next they used clay modeling to determine a design. From there the teams used CAD (computer added drafting) software to develop their ideas and transition them to actual prototypes using 3D printers. VCU’s da Vinci students worked closely with the teams throughout the project, both digitally and in person.

The project’s culminating event took place yesterday, when Mr. Bouwen’s students traveled to the da Vinci Center and presented their products to a panel of VCU students and professors as well as to each other. After each presentation the VCU panel asked questions to make the students think even more deeply about their products. At the end of the last presentation the panel identified the products they believed had the best design and marketability.

The second half of the day included a design challenge developed by the da Vinci students especially for GHS. Finally, the day finished with a walking tour of VCU, the engineering department, and the da Vinci Center’s design studio.

Mr. Bouwen’s commented, “This partnership has been a perfect example of a learning experience built to engage students in critical thinking, problem solving, and real world application. We hope it’s just the beginning of a lasting relationship with the da Vinci Center.