Our Difference
Sands Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership


Design Challenges

Every year, Pre-K-4th grade students tackle at least one unique CEL project. They channel boundless creativity and curiosity into real-world challenges by solving problems for others, including peers, school leaders, and even animals. Students are often inspired to pursue environmentally focused ventures as they observe the nature surrounding our campus. Through these design thinking experiences, they learn to see problems as opportunities to create solutions.


After observing a problem in their immediate world, students begin to learn more about whom it affects and how. They work collaboratively in small teams and as a class to interview community members, ask questions of experts, and conduct online research. Using this new information, they brainstorm possible solutions and decide together what idea they will try first. Throughout the project, every child has the opportunity to take on different roles within the team and learn more about their own strengths.


As much as creative thinking is encouraged in our problem-solving process, feasibility is also an important consideration for our young entrepreneurs. Oftentimes, their prototypes require supplies that are not readily available on campus. We challenge our older students to fund budgets for these purchases by selling goods, hosting fundraisers, and negotiating payment for tasks at home. As they research costs and earn money, they are introduced to the ideas of profitloans, and interest, as well as the value of time and money.


The design process doesn't end at the completion of the first prototype. Students practice effective communication of their ideas using technology, writing, and most importantly, their own voices. In sharing progress with others in the community, they receive feedback and new ideas that can potentially inform the next version of the solution. Throughout the entire design process, students practice interpersonal communication and relationship building with their teammates and mentors.


At the end of every project, students transform their concepts into creations. This second or third prototype is often built with new media and engineering tools. Expert mentors around campus work with the students to use audio-recording and film-editing software, electronic circuits, and even advanced machinery such as laser cutters and 3D printers. These learning opportunities often inspire students to think creatively about how to use technology to solve problems outside of the classroom, while also preparing them for the skills-based CEL 5-9 classes.

Venture Incubator

The CEL Venture Incubator is an extracurricular opportunity open to students below 10th grade who are interested in developing a business venture. Individuals and teams submit their ideas for review and, if selected, are partnered with external mentors who help them navigate the various phases of taking an idea from rough concept to authentic outcome. Throughout the process, students are given the opportunity to pitch their business plan to seasoned investors and entrepreneurs.

Mailing Address: 500 West Willow Grove Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118
Main Reception: 215-247-4700    |   Campus Security: 267-246-8427
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Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (SCH) is an independent school offering a rigorous college preparatory program that delivers an unparalleled academic experience.
The school’s unique model is distinguished by single-sex education for the lower grades (Pre-K through 8) followed by a coed Upper School.