Updated: Apr 6, 2021
From their student-run business, to their award-winning electric powered racecar, the students in Dalewood Middle School's VW eLab have consistently amazed us with what they create on a daily basis. Not only have these students designed products for their school, they have included the Chattanooga community in their business efforts, too.
Dalewood's student-run business, called the Dalewood Developers, has helped students gain real-world experience by learning what it takes to run their own business. Seventh grade student Ari Shropshire, who helped create the Dalewood Developers logo alongside her classmates, is proud to be part of their student-run business. "We're building up as a team, making our community stronger and better," Shropshire said. The students have made a variety of sellable products, and their primary creations are shirt designs. Most of their designs promote the Dalewood Blue Knights' school spirit, a concept that continues to boost school morale. "I believe the VW eLab helped us become more well-known throughout the county," shared Shropshire. "It's provided us different design-thinking challenges, and I think it has improved us as a whole in our school and is something students are really proud of."
Last week, during Chattanooga's Remake Learning Days, the Dalewood Developers invited the community to partake in creating their own shirts in their VW eLab during the school's annual Academic Knight. "The event tonight is about promoting community engagement and teaching people how to create their own Dalewood-inspired shirts by showing them what we learn every day," shared eighth grade student Jeffrie Chambers. "Everything in our VW eLab is student-made, and you will be surprised at what a lot of our students come up with. Even I’m surprised, as an eighth grader, when I see another student coming up with something I think is awesome." Dalewood had an impressive turnout during Academic Knight, with parents and families creating shirts throughout the entire evening. Remake Learning Days Arts & Events Producer, Dorie Taylor, also participated in the event and was impressed with what students are learning and creating. "Innovative teaching and innovative learning is happening throughout Chattanooga in schools, out of schools, and in all communities," shared Taylor, "and it's quite refreshing and exciting to see."
Seventh grade student and assistant manager of Dalewood Developers, Ayisatu Olanrewaju, shared what her experience has been like in the VW eLab, telling us, “I’ve been coming up with new ideas of what’s going to happen with my future. I've learned I could run a business at a young age and grow up to become more successful.” Olanrewaju is unsure of what career path she wants to take in the future, however, she shared "learning in the VW eLab is a good start for me to figure out what I want to do." The Dalewood Developers has encouraged her creative side, especially when designing their Knight logos. “It’s given me the hint that I could also do this in life and can continue to come up with ideas and add to them.”
Chris Seanard is Dalewood Middle's VW eLab specialist, and has enjoyed witnessing the positive outcomes his students are experiencing inside and outside of the classroom. “It’s really exciting to see the kids interacting with the community and teaching the community about technology,” shared Seanard. When asked what the most rewarding aspect of teaching students in the VW eLab is, Seanard said, “When students can completely take charge of a project and be completely comfortable with it, no matter what it is. When they get to the point where they don’t need my help at all, that’s the part that’s most exciting for me.” Seanard also emphasized that what students are learning in the VW eLab helps provide them opportunities in their community that they would have never been exposed to otherwise.
Shropshire and Chambers have enjoyed Seanard's teaching strategy of learning by doing. “For projects, Mr. Seanard helps guide us, but then you have to learn to do it how you think it should be done," said Shropshire. "In the real world, you don’t have everything done for you, so he helps us with that by encouraging us to learn on our own.” Chambers, who has been part of Dalewood's electric racecar team and the Dalewood Developers, also expressed his appreciation for Seanard's teaching style. "Mr. Seanard is the one to go to when you are stumped," shared Chambers. "He'll collaborate with your group and stop back by if he sees you’re having a lot of trouble. He’ll help guide you through the situation, then leave it up to you to solve the issue, in order to gain experience yourself.” Seanard has instruction sheets throughout the classroom to encourage students to feel comfortable taking on projects themselves. “Once you start repeating the project's steps more, and you want to accomplish more, you start to memorize the process for yourself,” said Shropshire.
In addition to Dalewood's Academic Knight, another Remake Learning Days event they participated in was Chattanooga's green|spaces Green Prix race. Students built an electric racecar in their VW eLab and competed against other Hamilton County schools at Chattanooga State. Although the weather caused heavy rain during their race, the students did not let it discourage their determination to win. Chambers shared that although the rain made it a little more challenging, it only motivated their team to want to try harder. "When we won, it showed how much teamwork and practice we had been guided through and helped each other through," he said. The first time he and his classmates constructed a racecar last year, it took them from September to early March because they were new to the process. “We have built up enough experience over time to where, this year, if a car part breaks, we know what to do to fix it," shared Chambers. "The racecar is my favorite project I’ve helped build, because it is a car that appears in many phases, but is fun all throughout."
After speaking with several of the Dalewood Developers, it is evident that they truly enjoy working together on a variety of different projects and learning how to create new, unique designs based on their own ideas. PEF looks forward to seeing what creative concepts Dalewood students continue to construct in their VW eLab and how they will continue to involve the community with their innovative projects in the future.
*Interested in purchasing your very own product created by Dalewood Developer students? Check out their website, www.DalewoodDevelopers.com. There, you can read more about who they are, what they create, and which of their student-made items are for sale!
*You can also follow Dalewood Middle's VW eLab on Twitter @DalewoodVWeLab to stay in the loop with the latest news on current projects & events.
*More pictures of Dalewood VW eLab events + students in the gallery below: