Pupils from a primary school in Israel and a secondary school in India were flown to Microsoft’s Headquarters in Seattle to receive trophies and certificates from Anthony Salcito, Microsoft’s Vice-President Worldwide Education on 27 November. They were the winning teams in the 2016/17 Global Enterprise Challenge (GEC), an initiative developed and run by Broadclyst Community Primary School (BCPS) in Devon.
The winning team in the 9-11 category was Steeviz, from Weizman School in Israel. The five youngsters developed, manufactured and sold 3D-printed keyrings, made of a biodegradable plastic made from corn. The unique selling feature was that the key chains fit into shopping carts in place of a regular coin. One of the judges, Mark Sparvell from Microsoft, commented: “I was impressed with the persistence here and the learning. They discovered that the 3D printing at a local high school was too slow and expensive and managed to find a solution in plastics. The product looks super professional.”
In the 12-15 category, the winners were Green Gallery, a team from Kamla Nehru Public School in India. The eight students used new and recycled cloth to develop, manufacture and sell a range of bags, small kits and hand fans with environmentally-friendly messages. Two of the team travelled to Seattle with their lead teacher and headteacher, and captivated their audience by modelling their products in a mock fashion show. The three judges, Mark Sparvell, education journalist Merlin John and Ranjit Singh, CEO at Geneeworld, said: “These children have a confident, enterprising attitude, justifying the value of their products, connecting to sustainable development goals and outsourcing well.”
During their award visit, the youngsters were also able to play with new toys connected with initiatives in the MS Stem programme, including a robotic hand. They enjoyed time in the Microsoft Visitor Center, playing many cutting-edge games and interactive activities, before having lunch, like Microsoft employees, in the dining area on the 100-acre campus. Afterwards the teams and adults visited a Microsoft Showcase School, St Thomas School in Medina.
BCPS headteacher Jonathan Bishop commented: “This challenge is truly unique in its emphasis on collaboration and in the past three years we have been proud and encouraged to see children from more than 45 schools in 30 different countries working together so productively towards a common aim and purpose. The sharing of ideas, discussion and feedback transcends distance, culture and economic situation and sets positive values and skills for their futures as global citizens.”
The GEC offers an exciting opportunity for schools to create partnerships and be part of a collaborative global community, using the Microsoft Office 365 platform to incorporate business skills - including product design, market research, manufacture and marketing - into many different elements of the curriculum and put children’s learning into a real-life context.