CentennialX Smashes Education Paradigm

CAPS Original

How do you prepare students for jobs that have yet to be created?

For the past three summers, teachers at William Tennent High School in Warminster, in collaboration with corporate partners, have exploded traditional education norms by offering a unique, six-week hands-on experience to a select group of students. Dubbed CentennialX (CX), the program is grounded in the belief that students should be empowered to create and generate new ideas to solve real-world problems under the guidance of teachers and industry partners. The model is working, with students learning transferable skills through their real-life research, independent learning and collaboration to develop innovative solutions to very complex problems.

Joseph Kim, senior advisor of clinical innovation at Eli Lilly and Company, and a partner for the past three years, has been very pleased with the students’ efforts to create education kits to inform children and their parents about clinical trials. “Innovative new medicines can be greatly delayed simply because people don’t know about the opportunity to volunteer in clinical research. We know this is a long game, but we believe joining forces with programs like CentennialX will yield positive results for society down the line.”

Another partner, Scott Rakestraw, PhD, president and managing director of The Branta Group, LLC, notes, “I find CX attractive because it exposes promising and self-motivated high school students to the business of attacking and solving applied challenges. Guided by a small group of dedicated teachers and private sector mentors, the CX students seek to synthesize solutions to multi-dimensional problems found in the real world. The projects require the CX students to stretch outside of their comfort zones to learn new concepts (e.g. market research, prototyping, product testing/evaluation, protection of intellectual property) that will be directly applicable to their futures.”

The CentennialX model is growing with the invitation for other local high schools to join them. Wissahickon was a participant in 2016 and Upper Dublin High School is onboard for this summer.

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