Innovation Space Fosters Creative Learning
The Ricks Center for Gifted Children, a preschool through grade 8 model school on the University of Denver campus and part of the Morgridge College of Education (MCE), is gearing up for the new school year and excited to capitalize on its model Innovation Space.
The Ricks Innovation Space, originally developed over the summer of 2017, came to life in response to overwhelming support from the Ricks community. Engaged parents in the Ricks Community Association (RCA) headed up a fundraising drive through the annual Gala. The MCE technology team saw the Daniels College of Business Innovation Center and decided to assist in additional funding toward the creation of an innovation space for a younger audience at Ricks.
Alexandra Struzziero was hired as the Innovation and Technology specialist at Ricks, and in collaboration with Josh Davies, MCE Technology Specialist and Website Administrator, developed blueprints for the space.
“We had a specific challenge because we needed to make a space where creativity and innovation is encouraged, but also make it specifically applicable to be used in an elementary school setting,” said Davies.
Anne Sweet, Director of Ricks, reached out to contacts at other independent schools, and Struzziero, and Davies toured several in order to gather ideas.
The final Innovation Space was designed specifically for Ricks, specifically for gifted students, and specifically with their unique needs in mind. Over the course of the last academic year, Struzziero and teachers facilitated the use of the space, and children used their creativity to launch it to the next level.
One student in particular, Quinn London, took to the space and expanded her thirst for education outside the traditional classroom setting. She asked for a 3-D printer for Christmas, and once her dad taught her how to solder, she took her tools to school and taught her class in the Innovation Space.
According to Quinn’s father, Brian, “the Innovation Space has really allowed her to grow and embrace this side of her education.”
Struzziero continues to build the capacity of the Innovation Space, integrating it with the curriculum while leaving room for students and teachers to explore through collaboration and origianlity. She is ready to start this fall with a better idea of how to tap into students’ passions in innovation and technology.
“Seeing students, like Quinn, who really pushed the envelope and grew each time they used the Innovation Space gave us confidence and reassurance that we are on the right path toward collaborative, innovative exploration,” said Sweet.
Struzziero continues to build off students’ and teachers’ use of the green screen for audio visual technology, 3-D printing, and coding technology. Students are engaged in the “maker movement,” tinkering without limits as they design new ways to engage technology. The RCA and teacher communities at Ricks supported this year’s initiative to implement LEGO robotics across the K – 8 learning spectrum. Ricks is hosting a 2-day LEGO robotics training on August 8 and 10, and has opened the training to MCE faculty and staff, along with local independent schools.
Ricks begins is 2018-2019 school year on August 13 for educator professional development and opens its doors to students August 20. For more information about Ricks, visit their site.