KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Students from Olathe East High School recently presented solutions to a real-world problem through 3DE, a new model from Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City that connects what students learn in the classroom to post-graduation opportunities.
This school year marks the first year the program has been in place at Olathe East and Northeast High School.
At the end of November, 125 Olathe East students pitched their final presentations to Mark One Electric, a company that offers electrical knowledge, experience and service to general contractors, developers, facility managers and business owners across the Midwest.
Students had six weeks to work in groups and come up with a solution for what the company should do with leftover materials after the completion of a project. Should Mark One store the materials or return them?
High schoolers involved in the project told KSHB 41 working to find an answer helps them feel prepared for what comes next.
"I think 3DE teaches a lot about how to actually make a presentation and how to sell it to people ... you're actually learning important stuff that you'll use in your everyday life," said Olathe East freshman Lilly Battese.
OEHS freshman Emma Barrington said she's gained people skills through speaking with Mark One employees.
"Everyone presents at least once in the class, and I feel like that helps with being ready to speak in front of crowds and in front of other people," Barrington said.
The goal of the 3DE program is to meet the needs of students today as well as moving forward into the future, per Megan Sturges Stanfield, president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City.
"Giving these kids a chance to solve a real-time, real-life problem here in Kansas City brings that application to the classroom and just makes school more fun and more relevant for the kids," Sturges Stanfield said.
Olathe East and Northeast high schools are the only two Kansas City area schools participating in this program. The new education model is the first of its kind in Kansas and Missouri, respectively.
The 3DE model starts in ninth grade and expands through 12th grade. In May 2026, 3DE will graduate its first class and have at least 1,000 students enrolled across the metro.