Top WOW! Moments from Fall 2014

This past December as we celebrated the end of 2014 we also celebrated a semester of student achievement and milestones. Staff members, volunteers, families, and guests were awed and inspired as students shared what they learned in science, health, robotics, visual arts, business, and technology at WOW! presentations across the Bay Area! Here’s a list of our top three WOW! moments! Building the Next Big Tech, Taught by Symantec

Citizen School Edit-23This fall semester, a group of students from Joseph George Middle School got to stretch their innovation and tech savvy by conceptualizing inventive new products that would help make lives easier around the globe. After a semester of hard work and practice, four student groups presented their tech business ideas to three top executives at Symantec. The four student companies, VibeApp, Homework Solver, Solar Phones, and Visualizer battled it out to become the next big tech innovation. Students pitched their products, trying to secure $1M+ dollars in seed money to develop their product and start their company. Symantec executives were thoroughly impressed by all the products and had a very difficult decision to make.  But, after much deliberation they crowned Homework Solver as the next big tech idea! Every student went home a winner that day; not only did they each receive custom made Symantec t-shirts with the logos of their own tech companies, but they also gained confidence and demonstrated mastery of 21st century skills.

Throughout the semester, 40 Symantec employees supported the students in this apprenticeship. One Citizen Teacher from Symantec reflected on his experience: “I always wanted to be a teacher, and I am always looking for opportunities like apprenticeships to stay connected to students in the community. I am so humbled by this experience and love that the kids taught me so much.”

Check out Homework Solver’s presentation at Symantec.

Mock Trial WOW!, Taught by Ropes & Gray, McDermott Will and Emery, and WilmerHale

DSC_0789This past semester, students from Joseph George Middle School, Cesar Chavez Academy, and William Sheppard Middle School paired up with three local law firms to put on a Mock Trial at the San Mateo County Superior Court. Over the course of ten weeks, lawyers from McDermott Will & Emery, Ropes & Gray, and WilmerHale helped students prepare for their debut in the courtroom. Students took turns serving as prosecutors, defenders, and witnesses, delivering opening and closing arguments and examining witnesses. One WOW! moment occurred in the case,  “Tracy Cook vs. Redwood Central Charter High School”.  Most of the students used notes to guide their arguments and questioning; however, one student on the prosecution abandoned her notes and fully immersed herself in the role as the prosecuting attorney examining the witness. She exhibited complete confidence in going off-script. She asked her own thoughtful questions and displayed astute independent reasoning. She transformed into a lawyer right before everyone’s eyes, dazzling the judge, jury, and other students.

Googler Citizen Teacher Joshua Encarnacion reflects on his top WOW! moment from teaching “To Live A Dream” at William Sheppard Middle School:

Citizen School Edit-13“The apprenticeship that fellow Citizen Teacher, Ethan Gauvin, and I taught was focused on building confidence in our students so they can effectively write and deliver a speech. The speech was created over the course of the class with the prompt: ‘What is your DREAM, why, and how will you live it?’ It’s not easy to answer these questions, but the students of this class openly embraced the challenge. My favorite WOW! moment was during week 6, when I asked the class if they could recite their dreams standing in front of the room, exercising all the presentation skills they have learned. To provide an example, Ethan and I spoke first, and shared our dreams in hopes of encouraging the students to feel comfortable with speaking in front of the class. Shortly after our performance, one of the students, Kimberly Paredes, made a comment that plays in my mind every day: “The both of you will live your dreams — you just have to continue to believe in yourselves.” In that moment, I realized that as we were working to build the confidence of the students in the class, at the very same time, the class was building our confidence in ourselves as teachers. After the session, we all clapped for each other, making it a day I will never forget — a day where the teachers and the students were committed to supporting each other and genuinely interested in helping each other grow!”