The world is a revolving axis of new ideas, yet most never see the light of day. For many innovators, the biggest obstacle standing between their dream idea and its fruition is money.
But student innovators at Mirman School in Bel-Air are climbing over this hurdle. As part of the school’s MirmanX program, students with the best ideas are receiving funding – to the tune of $10,000 per project – to develop prototypes of their “moonshot” ideas. School officials describe MirmanX as a middle-school startup accelerator that encourages upper-school students to pursue projects that have the potential to help their community in meaningful and tangible ways.
Projects are supported from genesis to market, and students retain full intellectual property.
The winning projects stand out because they sprung from issues that deeply matter to their idea-makers and the people around them. One student who has scoliosis worked on designing a smart brace for scoliosis patients that self-tightens in real time based on biofeedback. Another produced a documentary film to explore issues of discrimination against Iranian Americans.
And no one worked alone. Teams of students collaborated on each project using their individual skills and talents, solving problems and supporting each other.
Another program making headway at Mirman, eCYBERMISSION, challenges students in grades 6-9 to explore how STEM works in their world. Students in each grade form a team of three or four to propose a solution to a real problem in their community, then compete for state, regional and national awards.
Last year was Mirman’s fifth competing in the web-based competition, and one of the teams came up with a design that cinched the state award: an affordable and easy-to-use wearable technology that would motivate children to drink enough water to stay properly hydrated. Each year, the school has had a team advance to the national round.
Rounding out the design and technology programming at Mirman is a program focused on building strong leaders and diversity. A group of exemplary upper-school students participated in the Student Diversity Leadership Council during the 2016-17 school year and attended the national Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC).
SDLC is a multiracial, multicultural gathering that focuses on self-reflection, friendship-building and community. Last school year was the third year that Mirman sent student representatives – nominated by faculty and staff for their leadership, citizenship and advocacy – to the conference. The theme was “Dreaming Out Loud: Waking Up to a New Era of Civil Rights,” and the returning student representatives led inclusivity and social justice initiatives on campus for lower- and upper-school students.
As the new school year gets underway, Mirman’s leaders, scientists and innovators are already teeming with ideas and action.