Innovation Center grand opening: celebrating a bright future and boundless opportunity for the whole community
Here in St. Vrain, you may be well acquainted with the incredible, unique and progressive resource we have in the Innovation Center. Perhaps you are quietly curious, just newly aware it’s there. Regardless, whatever your impressions, they’re bound to be good. And this year, they’re going to just keep on getting better. Join in on the new building’s grand opening celebration, scheduled for this Friday afternoon, September 28, from 1 to 4:30 pm.
The new site being celebrated on Friday is a gleaming, cutting edge, 50,000 square foot facility located at 33 Quail Road. Funding was provided from the passing of a 2016 bond initiative, alongside support from the center’s many industry and community partners. “This has been eight years in the making,” Patty Quinones, Assistant Superintendent of Innovation says of the new site. “We were excited the Innovation Center was placed on the 2016 bond, and are just so thankful that our community really supports public education. We’re excited for this opportunity to provide our students and staff with this very iconic facility.”
Celebrating a Bright Future for Students
Walk through the new Innovation Center halls, peer in its labs and multiuse classrooms; you can’t help but be inspired. Peering into the various labs, you will get a glimpse of students working with a robotic arm. You’ll see students designing drones; collaborating to design underwater robots that could save the Titicaca water frog in conjunction with Denver Zoo; engaged in radio show production, and more.
Classes range from Robotics to Information Technology, Video Production, Unmanned Aerial Systems, Entrepreneurship and many other programs. Through extended learning and mentorship opportunities, students gain invaluable real world experience and even employment focused on designing and engineering technology solutions for industry and community partners.
“In our new building we’ve been able to build a new aeronautics division with a 250 square foot landing pad,” Quinones says. “We have a bioscience lab that is a cut above. We have more industry equipment, more opportunity for research and development…more for everyone.”
Included in that “more” is an entrepreneurial zone, designed to build a collaborative culture for students, staff and the community. Here, individuals and teams are guided through the entrepreneurial process, ultimately enabled to bring concepts to reality through workshops, courses, mentorship and financial support resources. Concepts can be put forward to interested parties in the pitch room, cultivating compelling presentations that could result in seeing their projects ultimately utilized in our community and beyond.
Boundless Learning Opportunities for Teachers
Alongside more opportunity for students, the new Innovation Center provides more for teachers, administrators, and the community-at-large. This fall, St. Vrain’s Professional Development team relocated to the new building. “When we posted about our new office space, teachers were thrilled,” says Diane Lauer, Assistant Superintendent of Priority Programs and Academic Support. “They asked, ‘do we get to take classes there now, too’, and we are thrilled to be able to tell them, yes.”
“Part of this new space really affords us the opportunity to learn by doing—all of us,” Lauer says. “There’s a time for theoretical learning and there’s a time to learn through authentic opportunities; to engage in collaborative, professional learning that challenges us to use the design process model and wrestle with our own inquiry questions. We use that process to help identify, prototype, test, and come to solutions around elevating education in our sphere.”
Teachers of all grade levels and content areas can benefit from the hands-on, experiential learning available at the Innovation Center. Lauer describes current collaboration with one of the district’s early childhood directors; plans are in progress to bring preschool teachers over to the center, to learn about aeronautics, for example. “Preschool students can actually build and fly their own drones,” Lauer says. “Especially the chuck gliders, the ones where you hold the plane by two fingers and just chuck them into the air.” Young children can hypothesize, making predictions about which planes will fly the highest and the furthest. They can make comparisons regarding different shapes and throwing methods. They can build, adapt, and purposefully observe the differences in flight attained through each modification. “We’re laying a foundation for critical thinking, in everything we do,” Lauer says. “From the youngest age, with encouragement we can purposefully observe and problem-solve.”
“Teachers are finding instructional creativity in the problem-solving process,” says Lauer. “Working with the Innovation Center’s equipment and resources, teachers can enrich their lessons so that students learn academic content and apply their thinking in authentic solution-finding situations. The engineering and design process starts with empathy, taking another’s perspective into account. Identifying problems and solutions of the real world involves everybody.”
The Innovation Center’s large Learning Commons creates opportunity for districtwide meetings and presentations. Smaller breakout spaces encircle classrooms and labs allowing teachers to engage in meaningful study as their learning progresses. Flexible seating abounds, allowing learners to reconfigure their learning spaces to adapt to their needs. A vast range of professional development classes will be available to teachers, staff, substitutes, and administrators in and out of district.
Community Members can Explore and Learn
Community members too can utilize the inspiring space. Plans are in the works for camps and public offerings such as Family Nights, allowing the community to explore and learn together in the enriching makerspace area and labs. The center welcomes community partnerships, always looking for industry partners to share expertise for the advancement of students.
Whether or not you experience Innovation Center programming, as a member of the SVVSD community, you have no doubt been positively impacted by it. Student designers build websites, apps for a variety of platforms, electronics, circuity, robotics, biomedical, aerospace, environmental, structural, and mechanical engineering projects. They work alongside community partners to explore potential solutions for grand challenges. They model and apply the design thinking process that is embraced throughout the district. The results go far beyond the realm of any one domain, integrating specialized skills, a collaborative ethos, compassion, empathy, and purposeful visions of a better world.
See for yourself just what the Innovation Center is all about… and how you can help make the most of it. Join the St. Vrain Valley community for the open house celebration this Friday, September 28. Enjoy a self-guided tour and student demonstrations, and treat yourself to a refreshed, bright outlook full of hope for the future.
New Innovation Center Grand Opening Celebration
Date: Friday, September 28, 2018
Time: 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Location: 33 Quail Road, Longmont
Directions: Innovation Center of St. Vrain Valley Schools