Year Four of MirmanX sees expanded cohort, more collaboration

Now in its fourth year, MirmanX has seen substantial growth since its inception, with Upper Schoolers working with funding to take ownership of their moonshot ideas and bring those dreams not just to life, but to market.
This year, the funding structure of the program was changed in order to involve more students and increase collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas.

Instead of awarding three grants of $10,000 to three student proposals, the funding was allocated across an entire class of learners. Team leads were able to recruit students to work in small groups, encouraging students to think bigger and teams to work smarter. This shift moves the structure of the program from competitive to cooperative, and has already proven to spur more innovation and produce more ideas with a greater degree of diversity.

There's still time left in the 2018-2019 school year for these bustling innovators, and if MirmanX legacy teaches us anything, it's that they will likely continue to work on their passion projects long after the school year ends — indeed, in some cases, after they leave Mirman. Here's a peek into what our entrepreneurs have been up to so far during Year Four.

Nikki D. (US1) is developing a product package for children who are enthusiastic about space exploration. It will include a website, which she is coding herself using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Evan F. (US3) is developing prototypes for renewable and sustainable energy sources. Associate cohort members are Russell F. and Aidan D. (US3).

Oliver L. (US2) is using coding skills in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create a localized trading app for school use. He is currently in Phase 2 of app development work with associate cohort member Misha B. (US2), who is very skilled at app development and prototyping.

Brandon L. and Connor Y. (US2) are using coding languages React and Firebase to begin the development of their health and wellness app BetterDay. They recruited associate cohort member London M. (US2) to help develop a business and marketing plan.

Eric Y. (US4) has started prototyping in the gaming and coding engine Unity to create his coding-instruction app for elementary schoolers, ANTS.

Liam B. (US1) is building his skills in coding languages (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) to develop GoFish, a mobile and web app to bridge social connections for senior citizens. He recruited Jonathan L. (US1) to join the associate cohort.

Katherine S. and Isabel W. (US2) are working on their business plan for WAFE (an eco-friendly water filtration unit) to get an accurate handle of profit and costs. Robotics Coach Amanda Sullivan is working closely with the girls to develop their business plan before they get to their minimum viable product. Katherine and Isabel have procured several materials to develop a few filtration prototypes.

Rishi G. (US2) has been very dedicated to completing his minimum viable product, which is centered on creating a non-profit organization. His business, called Feastible, connects restaurants with local communities who suffer from food insecurity.

Samaya S-M. (US2) is currently building her coding skills (HTML, CSS, and some JavaScript) to create a web application for TakeMe, a wish list-making app that will allow the families to care for a person on an extended stay at the hospital. The list can easily be shared with family and friends. The parent will also have the ability to include opportunities for visitation.

Dashiell Filus '11-'18, a member of the Year Three cohort, and now an alumnus of Mirman, spent additional months back on campus finishing his minimum viable product: a smart mechanical arm called Grasp to aid those with accessibility challenges. He completed his work at Mirman in February, and is now receiving support from the Makerspace Director at Oakwood, his new school. Despite his funding cycle coming to a close in December of 2018, Dashiel’s ambitious project continues and is testament to the spirit of our program.
A Horse With No Name No More
from the 2018-2019 Meridian 

After the school rebranded a few years ago, Athletic Director Angela Brown felt that something was missing. While new uniforms were donned for the first day of school, new signs were hung around campus, and a new website launched to accompany refreshed marketing materials, the font-forward design left something to be desired when it came to truly raising team spirit to the power of Mirman. 

In a school where more than half of the student body participates in some form of competitive athletics, and on a campus where a significant expansion created pristine courts and fields upon which one can cheer on several teams on any given day, Brown saw opportunity and sensed desire to elevate the program. After working with Jenn Salcido, Director of Marketing and Communications, and Noah Kaufman, Director of Advancement, the school’s branding was expanded to include a strong, confident (though K-8-appropriate) steed. New universal uniforms, sweatsuits, and swag followed suit. 

“It’s a truly exciting time for athletics at Mirman,” said Brown. “It’s a sense of pride that you can see and feel. It’s almost like we’ve arrived. You could have taken a snapshot of the students in their old uniforms, and then with their new ones with the names on the back. It’s a rallying cry. You can see the pride on their faces.”  

Finally, everyone could don uniforms featuring their own names writ large. Everyone except, of course, the horse. Everyone knew we had a mascot — you’d see the nameless Mustang trotted out for the occasional assembly or championship bout — but nobody really knew the mascot. 

What if the community could help change that? 

Last fall, Brown and her colleagues in the Physical Education department introduced a contest at an all-school assembly. The objective: not only to name the Mustang, but to tell the mascot’s story. Over the course of a 6-day cycle, ballots were collected from every grade level in both divisions. With Salcido’s help, Brown and Assistant to the Athletic Director Alyssa Woods tallied the results. 

The judges carefully considered the entries, assessing them on an unwritten rubric including points for overall catchiness, gender-neutrality, universal appeal, and other considerations. As the dust settled, one clear winner emerged: Rider. In retrospect, it seemed rather obvious. The school had only recently unveiled its Core Values (Responsibility, Integrity, Discovery, Empathy, and Resilience). And as equine monikers go, Rider makes a certain degree of sense. The name was revealed with much aplomb at an all-school assembly, with Rider trotting out on stage to show off a newly-minted personalized jersey. 

The winning entry belonged to Room 4L students Victoria A. and Amelie S., who soon revealed that they had a little help from their friends, specifically former Room 4L co-teacher and current Librarian Allison Sparks. 

“We had just had a community circle in class talking about the Core Values,” said Sparks. “This was something new to me as a new member of the Mirman community. When I asked the class out loud if they’d considered Rider for the Mustang name, a few of the students wanted to suggest it.” 

“I laughed it off and dismissed the idea,” Sparks admitted. “I thought that since it had come from an adult, it wouldn’t count. But when I saw how excited they were when they submitted it, I knew the name rang true. It really came out of an ‘a ha’ moment we had together as a class. 

“It relates so much to our school and Core Values and helps us make sure we’re always doing the right thing,” said Victoria A. of the new name. 

“It’s amazing to be part of our school history,” added Amelie S. 

The two girls, who themselves represent Mirman on the basketball court and soccer fields as part of the Room 4 teams, admitted that, like many great ideas, their first iteration didn’t ring quite as true. “I think we wanted to do mustard,” said Victoria. 

“Or mayonnaise,” said Amelie. 

As it turns out, most things do get better with teamwork. 

Like any ballot box, this one was not without its curiosities once opened up. Here were a few of the voting trends: 
  • More than a few students wanted to name the Mustang after themselves or their classmates 
  • One entry suggested “Vegan” 
  • “Uncle Grandpa” popped up more than a few times, much to the confusion of one judge. It was revealed upon further investigation that this is in fact an affectionate nickname for Coach Allen Foster. 
  • Regarding “The Mysterious Moose:” decidedly not a horse, but good alliteration. 

A Biography of Rider 
By Victoria A. and Amelie S., Room 4L 
(with editorial assistance from an anonymous magazine editor) 
Once upon a time, a beautiful horse was born. He* shook himself and stood up, curious about the world around him. He began to walk through the forest, stopping every so often to grab some fruit from a tree. After a while, he came upon a group of two little girls and their teacher walking through the woods.

“Hi horse! What’s your name?” the little girl asked. 

“I don’t have a name, actually. What’s yours?” the horse answered. 

“Woah, I can actually understand you,” said the little girl. “That’s so cool!” 

The girls and their teacher spoke with the horse a while longer, introducing themselves and getting to know each other. They wondered aloud why the horse didn’t have a name. 

“I just haven’t thought of one yet,” he said. “I’ve only just been born!” 

The trio brainstormed about names for a while, but then got sidetracked with what they all wanted to be when they grew up. “Do you have any ideas,” asked the teacher?” 

“I want to be a head of school!” one of the girls said. “And my school will need to have Core Values, but I don’t know what those should be.” 

“Maybe I can help you,” volunteered the horse. 

“You need to have responsibility,” began the teacher. “And integrity.” 

“And empathy for other horses!” said the horse. 

“We’ll need to discover things along the way!” said the other girl. 

“And you’ll need some resilience,” the horse finished. 

Suddenly, the trio and the horse looked at one another. “How would you feel if we called you Rider in honor of those core values?” asked the teacher. 

By now, you know how this story ends — happily ever after, surrounded by the cheering crowds. 

*while Rider is a male horse in this story, we know from his biographers that he really can be any gender! Everyone can and should be able to identify with Rider. 
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