The younger generation in NYC also has some wildly creative ideas that may ultimately lead them to create their own startups. MOUSE, an organization based in Chelsea, encourages and empowers them to create and learn through technology. The programs are run in over 100 public middle and high schools that are in underserved communities across the City. The students involved are in middle and high schools, with some participating through GED programs, and they are usually the digital media and tech experts in their schools.
“We’re really preparing them with a set of skills that inspires them to be this next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs,” explained Susan Schwartz, communications director for MOUSE. “As we see our students evolve through the program, there are a number of skills that they truly enhance, not only in technology but also the way they communicate with others and problem solve. As well they build their confidence and motivation; they learn that making mistakes and failing is a way of moving forward. It’s a part of achieving success.”
A good example of this was a project called ‘The Dining Band’, which a product is created for visually impaired people who are challenged when eating at a restaurant. Because they are not always exactly sure where the food is on the plate, the students designed a prototype of a wristband that has a heat and temperature sensor. As a wrist is moved around a plate, the impaired can know where the food is because of the temperatures. The entire process involved brainstorming, designing and iterating.
Another one of these activities is called ‘MOUSE Mallow’. “We divide the students up in teams and they get toothpicks and marshmallows and have to build the tallest tower. You can imagine along the way it’s not purely successful. They basically learn very early success requires working as a team. It requires iteration and really learning from mistakes and failure along the way.”