Innovation Academy: SVVSD students tackle local, world problems

STEM School

How would you change the places where you hang out?

That's just one of the design challenges students at the Innovation Academy for a Smarter Planet — a partnership of the St. Vrain Valley School District and IBM — are answering during their two-week camp.

One group of boys decided to redesign the Pepsi Center to make it more eco-friendly, as Jack McGuirk, 7, said.

"We're going to add solar panels," said Wyatt Tate-Maccoy, 7. Julian Hansell, also 7, piped up, "and windows."

"So it's not using a ton of lights," Wyatt added.

Nearby, a group of girls worked to redesign a library.

"We want the kids who can't read to have someplace to play," said 8-year-old Bethany Lonsinger.

The two-story library would feature an indoor playground on the first floor, and books and a fireplace on the second floor. To make it more energy-efficient, the girls added solar panels to the roof.

At Innovation Academy, the students don't just dream up these ideas. They have to follow the design process created by Stanford University, which includes defining a problem, thinking about how to solve it, building prototypes and gathering feedback.

This week, about 80 first-through-third-grade students from every St. Vrain elementary and K-8 school are learning this process and working on various design challenges at IBM's campus in Gunbarrel. STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) coordinators from the schools and volunteers from IBM are guiding the students.

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