Virtual Entrepreneurs – Our 4G Field Trip to Lumosity

To understand more about designing their own companies, our advanced 8th grade Distance Learning class took a virtual field trip to the San Francisco offices of Lumos Labs, the builder of the world-famous brain-training service, Lumosity. Prior to the trip, the students read about other Silicon Valley companies and discussed the importance of innovation when starting a new technology company. They also discussed the competitive hiring processes in the Bay Area and the perks that some companies – like Lumosity – use to attract the most talented employees.
In the video above, we see students being led by their fantastically engaging tour guide, Amanda, as well as their distance learning teacher in Los Angeles, BGL’s Teacher Jackie. This 4-minute highlight reel of the 45-minute trip shows Amanda leading the students through the open working areas, fun spaces, and the many kitchens of Lumosity.
While students were most amazed by the food options in the kitchens (and by the gaming areas), they also found inspiration for their assignment to design their own companies. For that assignment, students created advertisements that captured why their company should be an industry leader, just like Lumosity.
Here is some of their best work:
An 8th grader's idea for a new company - ear rings: combination earrings and headphones.

An 8th grader’s idea for a new company – ear rings: combination earrings and headphones.

An example of ear rings, Minions-style.

An example of ear rings, Minions-style.

Another 8th grader's business idea: wifi cards.

Another 8th grader’s business idea: wifi cards.

Another 8th grader's business idea: an app that allows you to rent products before you buy them.

Another 8th grader’s business idea: an app that allows you to rent products before you buy them.

Which companies would your class like to visit? Leave your ideas in the comments section.

Today’s Meet – “Yes, I like it”

The BGL staff just returned from another excellent CUE Conference in Palm Springs.  It was wonderful to see our friends from Menlo School (with whom we have conducted several international collaborations) and from Lumosity, who were there to give this awesome presentation on their neuroscience-backed brain-training games.

We have many takeaways from the event, but one stands out as the easiest to implement immediately in 1:1 classrooms like ours.  Today’s Meet is an incredibly simple and easy-to-use backchannel tool.  We’ve seen this used before but had preferred to use Googledoc forms when having class-wide conversations. We will continue to use these forms when student answers need to be collected and/or graded (we prefer the Googledoc spreadsheet to Today’s Meet’s transcript function).  But when having informal conversations – when the point of the conversation is the conversation itself – Today’s Meet is the way to go.  Best of all, it’s free!

Step 1: Go to todaysmeet.com.

Step 2: Name your room.  Make it easy as this name will be added to the end of the todaysmeet.com/ URL.  Select when the room will expire (up to one month).

Step 3: Share your room’s URL with your students.

And voila.  Your students will type their name in and start conversing about the topic of the day.  We asked our students if they liked it, and here’s some of what they said:

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 9.00.55 AM

Now, there are of course some issues.  Googledocs can be private, whereas anyone with the room’s URL can find your Today’s Meet room.  Plus, mischievous students will quickly figure out that they can enter a fake name and anonymously submit answers.  The latter is a liability of not requiring a sign-in, but that’s also one of the things our students liked about the product.  If they abuse it, it’s easy to switch back to the less-preferred tool.  This may be incentive enough to keep them in line (and online!).