On April 6-10, 2015 Project Exploration partnered with the Motorola Mobility Foundation for “Spring Science Camp: Innovation Launchpad,” a five-day program for 17 girls from Funston Elementary and other Logan Square schools. Working with a diverse group of professional women who call themselves “Women@Moto,” the girls learned all about the process of designing a mobile product and all of the different jobs that women at Motorola do so successfully. Below are excerpts from the daily accounts, which you can read in full on the Sisters4Science blog

Day One
The wait is over! Spring Break Camp has started at Funston Elementary School.  Ms. Eve and Ms. Lexie from Motorola Mobility Foundation welcomed our 17 middle school girls (Grade 6-8) as they stepped into the door. They all looked very shy.

Ms. Eve Bills, a Product Manager at Motorola started with an icebreaker aiming to demonstrate interviewing and research skills, start getting the girls accustomed to speaking in front of people.

Next, Ms. Eve moved onto the introductory part of “Product Development.”  Yes, the girls will be designing and making a prototype and even get to promote their products!

IMG_1594The girls started to speak up as they were sharing the definitions. Based on the definitions we’ve come up with, there were three key words to describe what a good product is meant to be. Desirable. Feasible. Viable.

For the second part of the day, Ms. Lexi gave a short lesson on “User-Centered Product.”  “Before we actually create a product, we do research first to know what people need.  Product is made based on our needs,” said Ms. Lexi.  She called out one volunteer and had her wear a glove one hand. The hand with that glove is broken. Sahian had to open a peanut butter jar with only one hand. She did open it, but it wasn’t as easy as with both hands. This how researchers see the needs.

Finally, the girls got to do their own research by interviewing their partners. They were not just interviewing each other, but had to form appropriate questions first. Excited! The girls were so much engaged in “interviews.”  They loved finding the needs to improve our communications.

Can’t wait to see their problem statements!

Day 2
Day Two of Spring Science Camp got off to a great start! Our wonderful guest speaker for the day was Ms. Patricia, a Visual Designer for Motorola Mobility.

Before starting the day’s lesson on “Product Ideation”, each group had an opportunity to create a problem statement describing the problem they planned on solving. It took some time for each team to decide on a single problem, but once it was chosen the girls were certainly excited to get started! The resulting problem statements were:Day Two - 10

  • How might we solve for no texting while driving?
  • How might we solve for low battery?
  • How might we solve for rejecting calls and messages?
  • How might we create a case that lets us communicate our style?
  • How might we create a phone for blind people?

The next step involved figuring out how to solve their problem! In preparation for this next step, Ms. Patricia introduced ideation, along with a few brainstorming rules. The following hour consisted of brainstorming solutions to their problems by writing each potential solution on a post-it note. From the amount of post-it notes seen around the room, it was clear to see that the girls were full of ideas!Day Two - 11

Before receiving their prototype kits (which they were extremely excited about!), Ms. Patricia held a Show-and-Tell with actual prototypes from Motorola, which definitely stirred up more ideas and resulted in the first sketches for prototypes!

After lunch, each group finally received the highly anticipated prototype kits! Each kit came with a wide variety of materials including Legos and a 3D pen! The girls dove right into the materials and there was no stopping them for the following hour and half. We cannot wait to see what the girls’ prototypes will look like!

Day 3
The girls got more than excited ever for what was waiting for them — “Shark Tank” with Motorola Executives! To have them well-prepared, Ms. Eve and her teammates from Motorola Mobility Foundation, Ms. Ann, and Ms. Kelly with Ms. Andrelina opened the morning with Pre-Product Fair.  Since the girls just started designing their prototypes on Day 2, it was a wonderful opportunity for them to share their original ideas and to get feedback from the peers and the professionals.

For our next activity Ms. Kelly and Ms. Ann introduced the idea of a “trade-off,” encouraging the girls to use their math skills to think about creating an expensive product on a budget.

Keeping our girls engaged, Ms. Andrelina used a Jeopardy-style game to explain three difficult concepts: User-Research, Testing, and Trade-off. We had so much fun, learning in the morning. Though the concepts were very difficult to understand, Motorola team made them so much easier, meaningful for the girls. The girls finally became experts in User-Research, Testing, and Trade-off.

Day 4
Field Trip is finally here! The girls were so excited that everyone was early for the bus to Merchandise Mart in Chicago downtown where Motorola Mobility Foundation is located. The girls and the facilitators took the elevator to the 18th floor.   We were guided to take a wooden stair from the lobby and we were all stunned at a beautiful view when we got on the 19th floor.  There we met “Women@Moto,” a group of female professionals who works at Motorola.

The girls were so glad to see some of the familiar faces from the previous sessions. Ms. Kelly, one of our guest speakers, led an icebreaker to have the girls feel comfortable.

DSC_0024There was definitely a different vibe, as the girls seemed a little more confident and comfortable than the previous days. To help the girls with Shark Tank that was planned for the next day, Women@Moto opened the field trip with “Elevator Pitch.” What if we only had 30 seconds to introduce ourselves to someone in the elevator, until the elevator reaches at its top floor? Yes, we don’t have time for details, but for something significant, appealing, and simple! The girls learned how to present themselves in such conditions.  30-second or 60-second introduction.

Then, with Elevator Pitch and interview skills learned through the week, the girls got to meet female professionals for an “Amazing Race.” Women@Moto had set up 9 stations that represent 9 departments, such as Sales & Marketing, Supply Chain, Consumer Design, Software, and Social Media. Our mission was to find what department the women we meet work in only by interviewing. The girls got to not just interview them, but to know what kind of jobs Motorola does. The girls were hesitant little bit in the beginning, but they were very much engaged that they all lost track of time. An hour later, when it was a lunch time, they were still talking with the professionals!  Wow!  No one forced them to stay or keep working at a station, but the girls so loved this Amazing Race experience!DSC_0023

In the afternoon, we continued on storytelling, how to pitch the product.  The girls were well-prepared for the next day for sure!

Below are some reflections from our girls:

“The career I’m interested in after I met women at Amazing Race is software engineer because they can control the app like game and change the way they would like to, change what the app says and its color.” –Jazlyn C.

“Learning to share personal story, I am not scared to talk to other people anymore.” –Marisol

“The most interesting role at Motorola is Supply Chain department, because the activity was fun and easy to understand for me.”  –Julie

“The women I met are just amazing.  A lot of people say women are for housework, but they just proved them wrong.”  –Kiana

“I love this place because it looks interesting and fancy.  There are so many incredible women that help us out.  They help me with my learning about technology and phones.”  –Jeanette

Day 5
The Big Day! Practice, practice, practice! Our fifth and final day began with an icebreaker that allowed each group to present themselves and their product to the rest of the girls. The girls were reminded of the three things the judges were looking for: Most User-Focused Problem Statement, Most Innovative Prototype, and Best Presentation Skills. The excitement was instantly felt in the classroom as the girls immediately started discussing their pitches within their groups. For the following hour and a half, the girls kept working on their product pitch, assigning parts, and perfecting their presentation. By lunch time, all teams were feeling confident and ready to go!

By 2 pm, the girls, parents, and staff had arrived at Merchandise Mart and checked in at the Motorola Headquarters for the main event! At 3:15 pm, it was time to start the show! Guests began to fill the seats as Ms. Eve welcomed everyone. The girls walked in looking fearless!

The first team up was J.J.J.A. with their product, The New Revolutionary Anti-Crack Phone, which was guaranteed to never break and allowed each person to communicate their own style through customized built-in cases. The second team was Magic Techs with their product, Talk to Me, which aimed to prevent people from texting while driving by creating an app, steering wheel holder, and Bluetooth pen. The next group was Infinity & Beyond with Tap and Talk, which is an app that allows blind people to easily make calls and use GPS on any phone. The following team was Shawties with their Motorola 500 AT product, which includes a phone with a battery life of 3 days, as well as a solar charging case. The final team was Fantastic Four with Reliable Style, a compact and customizable phone with a built-in chip that serves as a personal cell tower so one may have excellent reception at all times.

The girls left us in awe with their amazing presentations! With such great presentations, the judges took a bit more time to make their final decisions but it wasn’t long before they came back ready to announce the winners. The first prize announced was for “Best Presentation Skills” which was awarded to J.J.J.A.! J.J.J.A had great energy and knew their product so well that they hardly needed to look at their cue cards. The second prize was for Most Innovative Prototype which was awarded to Shawties for their originality and creativity in resolving the problem of low battery life. The final category of “Most User-Focused Problem Statement” resulted in a tie! Both Infinity & Beyond and Magic Techs had great problem statements that focused on a particular audience and provided a backstory. Each girl received a Bluetooth headset as well as a certificate for successfully completing the Spring Break camp!

As for the grand prize winner, the team that the judges believed did best across all three categories and won Motorola E phones was….. Fantastic Four!!! Fantastic Four focused on a major problem that phone companies are still trying to resolve, their prototypes were very detailed and understandable, and they were able to present it in a fun and creative way. Such a wonderful event came to an end as the girls posed for pictures with family, friends, and the wonderful people at Motorola that made this spring break camp possible. The girls did an amazing job with only a week’s worth of work. We couldn’t be more proud!

Thank you to all that made Spring Science Camp: Innovation Launchpad possible. We can’t wait to do it again!

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