Break Thru’15 in Freddy

A Breakthru @ #Breakthru’15

Thank you to Brilliant Labs and the Department of Education for inviting my students and I to the NBIF Breakthru Event Last night. My students were excited and empowered by the recognition and learned some of the nuances of networking.

Our Premier, the Minister of Education, The Deputy Minister of Education Francophone and the Leader of the Opposition were all able to catch glimpses of what Education could be and the wonderful work that today’s students and teachers are doing.


My students have been working on three main projects this semester, all of which require taking school outside of school and solving real problems for real people and where the lines of courses and content are blurred.

  • The One Million Lights is trying to provide 3D printed personal sources of light to students who cannot study after sunset.
  • The Automated Aquaponics Greenhouse is trying to create a low maintenance, smart greenhouse that will provide seedlings for the short growing season in the community garden.
  • Cyborg Arm is taking the popular 3D printed passive prosthetic a major step forward by automating it with EKG sensors attached to muscles, Arduinos and servos.

Brilliant Labs has supported each of these projects and helped give recognition to the innovation that can happen in a school. As a result, we were invited to the BreakThru event, which was the culmination of a contest that encouraged start ups and helped them along the way. It was a high profile event with all the major business players in the province from the Premier, to Ministers, to banks, accountants, Planet Hatch, Mr. Pond and Mr Deshpande, and the president of Shad.

I gave my students an assignment, “To learn how to network at a reception”. Natural human tendency is to find a group of familiar people and spend all your time with them, which will only slightly strengthen your already well established relationship. The purpose of this is to go meet strangers, give them a short sentence on what you do and ask them about what they do. I pointed out people I knew from Planet Hatch, NBIF, Shad, the UNB TME Center, Anywhere Group, Wicked Ideas etc… I left them in a room of 400 high profile business people. They decided to go talk to Mr. Pond and Mr Deshpande.

After the awards banquet, Mr Pond bypassed a number of important people to tell me how well my students did speaking with him and his business partner. Clearly they were smart, but perhaps more importantly, they were confident. His comment was that average but confident people can do amazing things. As Mr Pond was speaking, I was thinking that Scott Nielsen (Preston Middle School) would be proud, “Students moving with competence and confidence”.

When they got to the table, I told them to sit with at least 2 chairs between them so that a single or a couple could sit between them. I think that they had fun being intermixed with other students. They were close enough to have cross table conversations, but spent most of their time talking to previous strangers. Well done.

I wonder what Staff morale at my school would be if teachers cognisantly and deliberately did something similar?

The Premier and Minister of Ed had their pictures taken with students. The students giggled with joy when the Premier retested a few minutes later. Little did they know that the Premier was about to single them out. See the video. The students were empowered and excited. What a great experience.