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Are You Smarter Than a 6th Grader?

We all know that kids are pretty smart these days; just watching my neighbor’s 3-year-old son find Elmo videos on my cell phone makes that clear. But we’d still like to think that as grown-ups, we are brighter, more intelligent and better decision-makers than 6th graders. But are we? We had the opportunity recently, to conduct a project management experiment with a 6th grade class and, well, we were in for quite a surprise.

For more than 15 years, Merit Career Development has trained thousands of individuals to help them improve their project management (PM) skills. In 2010, we incorporated SimulTrain®, a computer-based, online simulation tool, into all of our PM workshops whether it is a one-, two-  or five-day program. SimulTrain always provides a engaging, hands-on, and fun learning experience that significantly boosts skill retention. Essentially, adults; PMs, nurses, accountants or other professionals who want to master these skills, really appreciate this program!  But 6th graders??
The 3 M's Second Period Leading TeamThrough a confluence of circumstances, that began with an invitation from the Keystone PMI Education Foundation Coordinator, Mr. Myles Miller, and the Keystone Chapter of the Project Management Institute, we supported a pilot with 6th graders at the Eyer Middle School in Pennsylvania’s North Penn School District. The parents and students were quite interested in learning the life skill of project management. While some of us were doubtful that our workplace-related program would resonate with these young students, we had enough people willing to give this a try that we scheduled the program. (You can see SimulTrain in action with adults.)

For several weeks before the competition, Myles instructed the students about PM fundamentals and common workplace terminology. When the big day arrived, the students formed teams of four and competed for the best scores throughout the event. In addition to Merit bringing the technology and leadership to the school (the same that is provided for adults), Buckeye Pipeline and the PMI Keystone Chapter sponsored this program, providing the funding for food, t-shirts and trophies for the students.

John Juzbasich, Merit’s CEO, facilitated the SimulTrain “competition”, and confirmed that he ran this program the same way he does for the adults. He provided an overview of the simulator screens, the project at hand — in this case planning a soccer event — timed intervals for the program, and review periods. Scoring took place throughout the competition.

We were amazed at how well the students grasped the technology, the project management concepts and the “game” overall. They did really well and seemed energized, enthused and anxious to play this again. When looking at their scores in each category, we saw that the students performed roughly on par with most of the adults who’ve participated. John Juzbasich insisted that he did not adjust the pace or in any way, make it easier for the kids than the adult version we regularly deliver.  Don’t just take my word, so please click through to these short videos and see for yourself.

Red TeamThe simulation project management competition also generated interest from many families whose children did not have the opportunity to participate the first time this was held, prompting a follow up event scheduled for Spring, 2017. Because the interest is so high, the school is planning to make SimulTrain a regular part of the Eyer Middle School curriculum. A number of universities are also interested in adding project management with simulation to their curriculum. The University of Scranton recently held a competition among their engineering students. There is a similar day scheduled at Lehigh University next month.

Everyone benefits by learning project management skills for school, work and life planning. If you want to expose your child or yourself to SimulTrain, the best project management learning program available, contact Jim Wynne at 610-225-0449 or jwynne@meritcd.com.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/are-you-smarter-than-a-6th-grader/

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