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Spotlight On: St. Vrain Valley School's New Innovation Center

Tuesday, February 19, 2019  
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Spotlight On: St. Vrain Valley School's New Innovation Center

Communication Matters Newsletter — December 18, 2018

Submitted by St. Vrain Valley Schools


This past fall, St. Vrain Valley Schools proudly celebrated the grand opening of their new 50,000 square foot, Innovation Center. The new building, which reflects the striking, cutting-edge learning the flourishes across St. Vrain, was made possible through strong community support in passing the 2016 bond initiative, alongside time and resource investment from the St. Vrain’s many industry and community partners.


The Innovation Center of St. Vrain Valley Schools began in 2012, when St. Vrain received a prestigious $16.6 million Race to the Top grant. At the Innovation Center, students access advanced STEM and design coursework in focus areas that include robotics, computer science, information technology, aeronautics, entrepreneurship, media, and STEM curriculum. Many of the programs can lead to industry certifications such as Apple Certified Technician, CompTIA, and TriCaster Certification, among others.


St. Vrain Valley School's Innovation Center

Through extended learning and mentorship opportunities, students gain invaluable real-world experiences and many join after-school teams where they receive paid employment to work on projects for business and community partners. Past project examples include partnering with the Denver Zoo to engineer an underwater robot to study endangered frogs in Peru, building a device to measure sharks for the Ocean First Institute, and developing many apps, websites, and videos for a variety of organizations and causes.

The new facility includes an aeronautics division, where students build and learn to pilot unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) and learn through newly donated flight simulators. The district plans to add a 250 square foot landing pad to continue extending student opportunities in this growing field. The Innovation Center is also home to an entrepreneurial zone, designed to build a collaborative culture for students, staff, and the community. The space includes a ‘Pitch Room’ and many different collaboration and media areas for student work. Everywhere are state-of-the-art classrooms, science labs, and other spaces for hands-on learning and exploration.


An underwater robotics lab at the Innovation Center

Alongside its many opportunities for students, the new Innovation Center also provides programming options for teachers, administrators, and the community-at-large. This fall, St. Vrain’s Office of Professional Development relocated to the new building to have access to more space for professional development courses and build stronger connections to learning technology and classroom work. “Part of this new space really affords us the opportunity to learn by doing for all of us,” says Assistant Superintendent of Priority Programs Diane Lauer.


“Learning at Innovation Center transcends the traditional classroom and provides experiential opportunities that are developing today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders, innovators, and changemakers,” says Patty Quinones, Assistant Superintendent of Innovation. “That really is the essence of what we are doing, and it certainly extends beyond our walls to staff, teachers, and our whole community.”

Are you interested in being featured in one of our Spotlight stories? Is your school or district doing something worthy of a shout-out? Be it a district-wide project, a school-specific milestone or even a staff member who goes above and beyond, we want to know! Email CASE Communications Specialist Elisa Wiseman with your story or shout-out for a chance to be featured on our website, and in a future Communication Matters newsletter. Get in touch with her atewiseman@co-case.org.

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