One of the most powerful ways student work becomes gold standard Project Based Learning opportunities, is when we are able to connect students with MV’s community of MVXperts.
We sat down with Lynn Luster iProject Director in the Upper School, to hear the importance and impact of our MVXperts have on the iProject program. At its core, iProject is a program for Upper School students to drive their own learning through passion projects and unique curiosities.
MV: Give us some examples of how you are working with MVXerts?
Luster: “In one iteration we prototyped having MVXperts on a panel in a Shark Tank style summative session. The Xperts gave students an authentic audience to pitch their ideas to and really made them think about some key questions about their project and future plans.
Other examples include: A parent working at the CDC who mentored one of our students through the beginning days of the COVID 19 pandemic. He lent his expertise as our student wrote, submitted, and then was accepted for a publication in the Harvard Review.
One student’s mom came to visit our classroom to show students how to shoot a film. She gave a brief explanation of the most common shots, had the students storyboard their ideas, and helped them shoot an assignment in class.
Other parents have tested apps or products within their field, spoken with a student about Art Therapy, and helped students build a food pantry.
One of our parents offered space to a student artist to sell their work in her shop.”
MV: What are the expectations of MVXpert volunteers?
Luster: “Specifically for iProject, it varies. More than anything just talking to an adult in this field of work opens up a lot of ideas for the students.
It can be intimidating for a student to make a cold phone call. Adding a layer of familiarity, interacting with a parent can make this experience easier. Students will always benefit from telling someone else about their project, receiving feedback about a blind side they may have , while expanding their perspective through the power of suggestion.
Another option to provide expertise is to lead a workshop for a small group, or to invite the student to visit your workplace. Personally, I learn so much from site visits.”
Outside of iProject, another area of the School that needs MVXperts is Innovation Diploma. This program is interested in expanding their reach into the Marketing/Innovation teams at well-known organizations. The expectation is for members of the organization to engage with Mount Vernon student teams to solve a problem, improve a product, or rethink an experience using the Design Thinking process. The hope is for these organizations to be ongoing partners with iD, bringing projects on a recurring basis. iD calls this the Design Brief Process. Learn more about a Design Brief from a student’s perspective.
More than just these Upper School examples, MVXperts are needed in every division. Students who engage with MVXperts have better opportunities to further their own work while getting a peek at authentic careers. At Mount Vernon, curiosity drives learning, and being able to ask questions is a gift.