Making Matter

When Jami and I embarked on this journey together, it was only an idea, a concept, a thought. An Audacious Aspiration. Little else.

It was not real – just a fiction, an illusion. But in four short years, that illusion would manifest, become reality, become _matter_.

The evidence was clear. First it was the experience of the Dayton team that went to MIT as part of the Lemelson-MIT Inventeam challenge.

Dayton was chosen, from hundreds of schools from around the country, to be one of fifteen participants in a design challenge sponsored by Lemelson-MIT. Their entire team of a dozen or so students was flown to Boston to present their project – an automated chicken coop – to judges and professors from MIT.

The team was classic Dayton. Just normal kids that represented the entire student body. Girls, boys, techie kids, farm kids, white kids, Latinx kids. Just kids.

On the surface, they were totally outclassed at the event. Most of the other schools were wealthy private or charter schools that had sent their best and brightest students. The most privileged.

But the Dayton kids stole the show. Everyone wanted to hear their story, intrigued by the ingenuity of their chicken coop. Months later the program leaders were still talking about them.

Then the graduation rates were announced. In four years, Dayton had improved their graduation rate by fourteen percentage points, while the state, in that same period, had only improved by five. At 97%, Dayton now had one of the highest graduation rates in the state.

But one afternoon, when I observed what Jenni was doing in her Genius Hour class, I knew that this transformation was real – and powerful.

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