Jon Temple’s Research Methods I class in Room 2095 at Hoover High School, aka The STEM Room, began with an exercise that was literally hands-on Tuesday afternoon.

Clasping onto one another, the students first tied themselves in a human knot and then untied it without letting go. It was a good metaphor and demonstration with regard to current national affairs, but that’s beside the point. The lesson at hand was a STEM Academy project in conjunction with Drake University involving how to develop commercial innovations from scientific research and discovery.

The Business Model Canvas session was facilitated by Drake grad student Steven Leash, an entrepreneur with three businesses of his own, and Dr. Debra Bishop, Director of Drake’s Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship Outreach.

Temple’s class has been growing genetic barley this semester, so it made sense to explore possible commercial applications in that area. In small groups, students brainstormed everything from craft breweries to new breakfast cereals (“Gnarly Barley” had a nice ring to it). The BMC template guided them through phases of product development including revenue streams, customer segments, value propositions and cost structures.

Hoover’s STEM Academy was established in 2012 and was one of the first four high schools in Iowa to receive state grants to boost its programming. The school already partners with Drake, Grandview University, Iowa State University and the Science Center of Iowa, but this collaboration on entrepreneurship and innovation represents a new dimension.

“We had seniors in our Research Methods II class involved with the Lorentzen Student Hatchery at Drake (a summer offshoot of the Pappajohn Center there), and this project resulted from that,” said Eric Hall, Hoover’s IB Diploma Program Coordinator.

Next up for Temple’s students is a visit to Drake’s campus during the university’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation Week at the end of the month.

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. But a high school student with the right, bright ideas might end up spelling it $TEM.

Photos from Hoover, Drake Entrepreneurship Class
Drake U. Joins Hoover’s STEM to Rethink Barley Business Models

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