HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 154
Houstonian designs new experiences to encourage innovation in students
As director of social innovation at Teach For America Houston, it's Sarah Essama's job to come up with new ways for the organization to support both students and teachers. But, as she explains on the Houston Innovators Podcast this week, Essama realized a huge lesson modern students needed was to learn this innovation process themselves.
Part of being an educator is to prepare students for tomorrow, Essama explains, but with rapid technology development and adaption, no one knows what the future will hold for the job market or the world in general. The best way to prepare the future generation of the workforce is to teach them how to innovate, think differently, and adapt to new ways of doing things.
"That's what people are looking for right now — people who can provide out-of-the-box solutions to problems," Essama says on the show.
This line of thinking turned into Essama founding The Dream Lab, powered by Teach for America Houston.
"The Dream Lab is a set of immersive design spaces where young people leverage their imagination and creativity to innovate and solve problems within their community," she explains.
Last month, the new concept rolled out to high school students in partnership with DivInc Houston, a nonprofit focused on social and economic equity in entrepreneurship, and 21 ninth graders spent the day at the Ion for a mini-innovation accelerator and design showcase.
Strategically, Essama tapped into the Houston innovation ecosystem with the intent of showcasing the community.
"Innovation to me is being able to create something that has never been seen or done before — and that has a very important purpose," she says. "Exposing ourselves to innovation and people who think this way — and learning from them —is key to be able to be competitive tomorrow."
Essama says this program is still in the development phase. She's been testing out the concept with fourth graders and now ninth graders. She hopes the full program will be up and running by next fall.
She shares more details about the grant and the future of The Dream Lab on the podcast. Listen to the interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.