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Schools, businesses partner for Homegrown

Krystle Wagner • Nov 26, 2018 at 11:00 AM

Students are using their skills to solve real-world problems.

Several Grand Haven classrooms this fall have partnered with local businesses through the new program, Homegrown. Students are presented a challenge facing their partnered business, and it’s up students to develop a possible solution.

The program takes several classrooms of grades K-4 through the design-thinking process. Participating businesses include: Automatic Spring Products Corp., Beacon Recycling, GHSP, Herman Miller, and Klever Innovations.

Homegrown is a collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven, Spring Lake, and Ferrysburg.

Nick Tejchma’s fourth-graders are one of the classes partnering with Automatic Spring Products Corp.

Last week, the class toured the business and learned the driving question they will develop solutions for – “How can our class redesign a new holding space to be more effective for ASPC?”

Boxes currently occupy the space that will soon be used for a new machine.

After their first meeting, students created an empathy map to understand what employees might think, feel, hear and say.

Earlier last week, students asked employees questions to gather more information before they develop final solutions.

Once students develop solutions, they will present to the employees and receive feedback. In two weeks, they will present their ideas to the business, parents and community during a showcase event.

Fourth-grader Tasia Payne said she think’s it’s good they’re partnering with the Grand Haven Township business.

“We can do something we never did before,” she said.

Overall, the new program is going well and exceeded expectations, said Nancy Manglos, the director of talent and leadership development for the Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven-Spring Lake-Ferrysburg.

The program has also gained attention in the West Michigan region because it’s a partnership with K-4 and business as opposed to working with high school students, Manglos said.

As students work to address the challenges, Manglos said it’s been “amazing” watch.

Businesses and students learn about each others’ worlds as they work.

Rhonda Gibson, training manager for Automatic Spring Products Corp., said they got involved with the program as part of an outreach to understand curriculum in schools.

“It’s been a pretty dynamic process,” she said.

Gibson said some of the elements students are working through is the same type of process their engineers also work through.

Gibson said it’s also been impressive to see where students are on their education path.

Gibson said the teachers they’re working with are “truly remarkable.”

Once the first semester of partnerships end, Manglos said they will discuss a second semester for the program.

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