Minnetonka Schools is proud to foster a culture of innovation to help keep the school district on the leading edge. Here is a quick look at what this has meant for three members of the MHS Student Innovation team:
Alexandra Hernandez, Class of 2018, on how innovation extends curriculum:
It's amazing to be part of a group of students who are representatives of innovation at our high school. We've been able to learn the innovation process and all of the steps, and then apply them to solve larger problems.
My group worked with the language department. We're trying to incorporate more culture into the world language curriculum, like the Immersion curriculum, so that students can understand more about the culture, the food and the customs that surround each language.
We have come across some obstacles, which is completely normal. As much as I thought it was challenging to overcome these obstacles at the time, looking back, I appreciate them because they helped us learn so much more. Sometimes, we had to rethink our approach. When going through the innovation process you might feel like you're backtracking, but you move forward with better ideas for the long run. It was interesting to see first-hand how we moved back and forth throughout the process, persevering over the course of the year to make progress.
Connor Hansen, Class of 2019, on how innovation encourages authenticity:
If I were to describe the entire innovation process in one word, it would be 'authentic.' It's about starting small, prototyping, and if it flops it flops—that's just how it goes sometimes.
The whole Human-Centered Design process makes total sense. What I think sets it apart is the empathy piece. Empathy doesn't necessarily drive forward innovation, but it drives forth understanding of different points of view, ideas you may not be comfortable with, or concepts you simply don't know.
Sometimes, if people are used to something one way, they don't like change. Innovation is inherently messy. Through the Student Innovation Team we've learned in an authentic way in a safe and supportive environment. We didn't try to avoid confrontation. The process helped us look at polarizing topics, in some cases, with more of a bird's eye view. We were then able to determine, as a group, what we thought was the best way forward.
Dominic Barry, Class of 2020, on using innovation for safer roadways for students:
The Student Innovation team helps bring an entirely new perspective to the table.
I worked on a team to make the roadways around Minnetonka High School safer. Along the frontage road near the high school, a lot of kids are crossing the street every morning. During much of the school year, it's dark in the morning, and if people are rushing to get to school, it can be a somewhat dangerous situation.
We surveyed a few hundred students here to see if they thought safety was an issue, and a large number of students agreed it was. There are a lot of ideas in the works for how we might solve this problem. So far it has required a lot of brainstorming and connecting with individuals such as the city manager, engineers and budget experts.
I feel the Innovation team helps us work toward changes like these in a way that wouldn't happen if we didn't have a voice at the table.