CEI Announces Design Challenge Series for 2018

November 13, 2017

Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) is connecting people, passion, and possibilities with the expansion of the popular Design Challenge workshop. Originally a component of CEI’s annual Showcase conference, the Design Challenge is a chance for teachers and professionals to work side-by-side to bring teachers’ great ideas to fruition.

The series of standalone workshops, which can be customized to an industry focus (i.e. STEM, finance), will be held in a variety of locations in Colorado. Each event will provide Colorado’s business community with a chance to share their experience and business savvy with educators who are eager to design innovative ways for kids to explore their unique talents. A day at a CEI Design Challenge not only ignites teacher ideas, it also energizes all participants as they roll up their sleeves and find new ways to engage kids in deeper learning. And that’s just the start. When workshops conclude, teachers receive on-the-spot funding to make ideas become reality in their classrooms.

At the 2017 CEI Showcase STEM Design Challenge, Kelly Shay presented an idea for her kindergarten classroom at Orchard Avenue Elementary School in Grand Junction, based on the question “What happens to trash when I throw it away?”Kindergartner emptying recycle bin

As a result, she has created a classroom where her students are becoming environmental experts. The kindergartners are learning about the importance of caring for the planet, teaching others to be mindful, and expanding recycling efforts at their school.

“It has been incredible to see how these resources have impacted my classroom. We have implemented recycling in our classroom and continue to make others aware of the importance of caring for our planet. We can read our many books about recycling and conservation.”

Shay’s kindergarten class now has a better understanding and real-world examples about how to make positive change.

How it Works

Teachers and mentors from the business community team up at the CEI Design Challenge to brainstorm possibilities for student learning. Teams focus on identifying real-world problems that students might solve, and select an idea to develop into a classroom project.

  • Teachers become designers as they collaborate with business partners to draft curriculum that has real-life relevance and provides opportunities for all students to participate.
  • Teams present their “pitch” to a panel of judges, comprised of volunteers from the business community.
  • Judges consider effectiveness and potential impact of each idea, how the proposals align with content standards, and how student learning will be measured.
  • Teachers receive on-the-spot funding from the Design Challenge Prize Fund to make the idea a reality in their classroom.

Why it Matters

Empowering students to be active learners is key to preparing them for future academic and career endeavors. Combining the creative thinking of teachers who understand kids with the insight of business professionals who understand the requirements of today’s workforce creates powerful opportunities to expand classroom instruction.

“If we really want kids that are going to change the world and do really important things, then we have to empower them in the classroom to take charge of their own learning.”
–Sean Wybrant, 2017 Colorado Teacher of the Year and previous STEM Design Challenge winner.

The CEI Design Challenge provides an immediate opportunity to get the most promising practices off the ground and into classrooms. When provided the occasion to co-create, educators and business leaders consistently produce compelling solutions. And the real winner? The students of Colorado.

How to Participate

Contact Liz Kuehl, 720-502-4736 or Eve Dreher, 720-502-4756 to learn more. Opportunities are available for teachers and those who would like to serve as business mentors, judges, and investors. Donate online to the CEI Design Challenge Prize Fund.