(Re)Mix the Kicks!

The kickoff: grade 10 MC2STEM students with Mr. Wenz (right). Courtesy Colin Cristy.

The kickoff: grade 10 MC2STEM students with Mr. Wenz (right). Courtesy Colin Cristy.

When we teach math, our students don’t care. Things like “You will eventually need this” go in one ear and out the other. When we teach science, our students do it for a grade, going through labs like robots just trying to get to the end. Even when we do projects that we, as teachers, think might be fun, the students laugh and remind us just how “old” we actually are. Hindsight is 20/20 and we know years from now our students will see the relevance in what we are doing, but capturing the heart and mind of a social-media obsessed 15-year-old who doesn’t even have the attention span to watch a movie without obsessively checking his or her phone often proves to be a challenge for even the most “in-touch” teacher. At some point you just have to throw your hands up and say, “Why don’t you tell me what you want you are interested in.”

So we did.

Unsurprisingly, the answer was pretty simple: shoes and phones.

Prototyping: MC2STEM 10th graders show off their “sketches.” Courtesy of Colin Christy.

Prototyping: MC2STEM 10th graders show off their “sketches.” Courtesy of Colin Christy.

From this, the (Re)Mix the Kicks Capstone Project was born. In this Capstone, students will study the history (physical, cultural, and political) of sneakers to bring the past and present into the future. Students designed, developed, built, pitched, and marketed the wearable tech of the future!

However, we weren’t just caving to the interests of our students for this project. As educators, we understood two things: 1. Everything is a learning opportunity. 2. We could engage the students in the tech they craved from their obsession with phones. Every shoe tells a story. In the late 18th century, people wore rubber soled shoes called plimsolls, but they were pretty crude—for one thing, there was no right foot or left foot. Around 1892, the U.S. Rubber Company came up with more comfortable rubber sneakers with canvas tops, called Keds. By 1917, these sneakers began to be mass produced. That same year, Marquis Converse produced the first shoe made just for basketball, called Converse All-Stars. In 1923, an Indiana hoops star named Chuck Taylor endorsed the shoes, and they became known as Chuck Taylor All-Stars. These are the best-selling basketball shoes of all time.

Shoe prototypes and inspirations. Courtesy of Colin Christy.

Shoe prototypes and inspirations. Courtesy of Colin Christy.

Since its invention in the 19th century, the footwear has been about much more than athletics—conveying ideas about national identity, class, race, and other forms of social meaning. More than that, shoes have made promises to enhance performance, change your game, and even make you famous—all before we had the ability to really innovate. With the advent of wearable tech and the ability to use digital fabrication tools like 3D scanners and printers and Raspberry Pi technology, there is no telling what the future of sneakers might look like!

In this Capstone, students will study the history (physical, cultural, and political) of sneakers to bring the past and present into the future. Students will study, design, develop, build, pitch, and market the wearable tech of the future...but remember, I’m old. This is how I see things. The students can bring a much better understanding to this project!

STUDENT 1 REFLECTION - Sandie Hansard

One thing that I enjoyed about the Remix The Kicks project was the designing process and creating a meaning behind our shoe.I also enjoyed picking the colorways because it was something I had control over and because of that it made me like the shoe a lot more.One thing i didn’t like about this Remix the Kicks project was the usage of the clay.I didn’t like the fact that as soon as we build the shoe the clay held for a certain amount of time and then broke in half.That is what really upset me the most because I spent lots of time making sure that my project was in tip top shape.

Yes, I think the materials that we used could of been better, we should of used better and stronger materials for our shoe so that it didn’t fall apart so quickly.I wish we could of had a workshop so therefore our shoe could of benefited a wider market making it comfortable and still fashionable.

If MC2STEM was to do this project again I think that they should choose a better choice of materials, and require a more specific write up. As a group, we should be able to write about our experiences and share them, possibly in a video form. We also should have been able to market and sell the shoe to larger markets, in other words, what our message to our purchasing audience would be. I think the focus for the project was a little all over the place.

STUDENT 2 REFLECTION- Earl Sandford

I enjoyed the creation of my shoes, specifically the shoe box stood out to me most. The shoe box, even though my team didn’t finish it, was cool because ours would have been shaped as a mix of several layers. The box would have given our shoe the extra edge. I believe the structure of our box added interest and would have been a unique style for the market.

I think I could have improved of the clay part because the clay made me mad. It was sticky and the clay wasn’t easy to remove from your hands until roughly 3 hours later. Also, the clay kept breaking, which made me even more frustrated. I would have liked to spend the time spent on the clay shoe on our box instead since that is where my passion lay.

If MC2STEM did this capstone again, I wish they could add materials to the shoes, so we can really make the shoes and wear them. I feels like it might help me accomplish my dream to make a shoe with my name somewhere on it, so I can further personally identify with the pieces I’m creating.

TEACHER REFLECTION- Eleanor Eisenmenn

As an English teacher operating in testing season, it can be difficult to find a balance between capstone curriculum and Ohio State Testing standards. That is, it can be difficult if these standards are not embedded into the capstone from the beginning. During my first year at MC2STEM, I have been working to establish better classroom practices in order to have natural connections between the state standards we need our students to master in order to graduate and the capstone projects we want our students to enjoy.

Remix the Kicks was a great capstone for our third quarter curriculum because it attracted student interest through shoes while allowing myself and other teachers the flexibility to tie in our curriculum goals. I was able to have my students practice skills necessary for internships in addition to embedding written analysis through the lens of footwear and fashion. Many students were able to apply previous skill sets to newfound interests through shoe narratives, expressing their life experiences while revealing personal writing styles.

The creativity allowed by this unit enabled our student groupings to have successful presentations of their shoe designs. Many students who previously struggled with group presentations in English found new footing through their passion of the capstone products. While moving into standardized testing is never an easy or enjoyable task for myself or my students, the Remix the Kicks Capstone gave us a renewed sense of purpose as small student achievement lead to a big payoff.