By Aila WEquil, Zaynab Dean, Antigone Stark, Sumay WEquil and Lihong McPhail
Hello WEquil.School Members!
Anyone can have a big idea...but how do you make big ideas become a reality?
The WEquil Process is our way for growing ideas from little seeds to big trees. The approach starts with a Minimum Viable Project (MVP). An MVP is the simplest and smallest Creative Project you can make that adds value to the world. MVPs allow members to create value for the world while doing what they are interested in. In this article we help kids and adults learn to find, draft, and share an MVP so their little seeds can get the light of day.
To help members start making MVPs, we developed what we call the Creative Learning Process (CLP). We are also providing virtual classes on the subject. In this article we define “Minimum Viable Projects”, steps of creating MVPs using the “Creative Learning Process”. In addition, we include MVP templates to help members publish in the WEquil.School classrooms!
What is a Minimum Viable Project (MVP)
A minimum viable project is a project that has everything needed to understand what the project is about but doesn’t look pretty. If it were to be graded it would receive a C minus. There are some criteria it must fulfill. Everything at Wequil.School is ultimately published as a “Creative Project”. By “Creative” we mean that the project has two qualities. The first is that it must be something novel or unique. The second is that the project must add value to other people. The result of every project is something that is new and helpful.
One good rule of thumb for determining if a project is helpful is to ask...
"Do I want to read this project?"
“Do I want my kids to read this project?”
For more information about the definition of Creative Project please read our article on “Project Based Learning.”
The MVP is developed through the Creative Learning Process (CLP). Next we discuss the CLP.
Steps to Create Your MVP
WEquil.School uses a Creative Learning Process (CLP) to help our members come up with great creative project ideas. The process is simple enough with just three steps: 1. Find Seeds; 2. Plant Seed; 3. Grow Seed. Don’t worry about any other seed (other projects) or what the tree will end up looking like (after the WEquil Process) … just plant the seed for now (MVP) and share with others (give it sunshine) so it can grow. The reason most seeds die is that they never ever get feedback from others that value your MVP to iterate and improve (see the light of day).
Step 1: Find Seeds
Finding seeds is a fun process and a great opportunity for mentors such as parents and teachers to not just communicate with their learners but also to really connect with them. Take a look at the many many ways that finding seeds helped connect this family while simultaneously exploring many new ideas: Ten Remote Learning Ideas for 2021.
Asking about interests is a great way to build relationships because you are putting the focus on the learner. You are building their confidence while helping them explore and accept themselves. There are so many questions you can ask… for example questions like:
What interests you?
What are your strengths?
What do you do for fun?
Step 2: Plant Seed (Dig Deeper)
"Why?" is the greatest question ever because it is so simple and yet opens the mind to dig deeper. You want to help people learn about themselves and asking them why they think certain things are interesting gives them more opportunity to search for meaning. Here are some more ways you can ask “why”:
Tell me more…
Can you think of reasons why you like it?
Listen...help people discover themselves
Step 3: Grow the Seed
Growing the seed means using learner’s interests to add value to the world. This part requires the most thought as well as support from mentors. One way mentors can help is offering MVP ideas based on the strengths and interests discussed in Step 2. Remember, these are only suggestions and the learner must decide whether or not they want to create the MVP.
Once a learner wants to create the MVP, the first step the learner should take is tilling the soil to identify and remove any issues that might prevent them from creating a successful project. For example, if a learner is interested in sharing ways to be more eco-friendly but is developing writing skills, they could seek help from better writers for advice. During this process, mentors should actively be watering the seed by giving their learner encouragement. Growing a project takes time and effort and encouragement can keep learners going. The final step to grow the seed is adding sunshine. Adding sunshine is socializing the project and gaining feedback to iterate and improve.
The final step is often the hardest because we may not always know how our interests can be helpful to others and can be a positive force in the world. Adding value does not have to be something big like inventing some amazing contraption. It can be as simple as inspiring someone to try something they were afraid to do before. Also, don’t try to help everyone. Try to help someone or a small group. MVPs should focus on specific people or specific problems. Most of all, don’t be afraid to fail. Have confidence to get back up and try again. You need to be curious to try new things. However, connecting our strengths and interests with adding value to others is the only way we will ever find equilibrium (WEquil’s Mission). It's the process of seeking out how our unique selves can be useful that provides the north star to success.
MVP templates to Publish at WEquil.School
WEquil.School offers two kinds of MVPs, the two paragraph MVP and the Five Paragraph MVP. Kids at WEquil.school often use a two paragraph framework for their first project. The first paragraph talks about what it is, and the second paragraph is about why you think it adds value to other people. For example one of the kids at WEquil.school Named Mia wrote a two paragraph article on a documentary named My Octopus Teacher.
After learners at WEquil.school have had some practice writing, they move on to writing five paragraph framework articles. The five paragraphs are the intro, three body paragraphs, and conclusion.
Once learners master the synthesis learning process, the sky's the limit. At WEquil.school, learners are creating softwares, games, apps, businesses, music, comedy, film, art, and more to add value to the world!
In conclusion, we hope to help you understand what the MVP is, how to develop an MVP, and how to publish an MVP at WEquil.School. Thank you and please let us know if you have questions or suggestions!