Feature Stories

New LEGO Spike Kits Inspire Innovation at Minnetonka Middle Schools

Teachers, parents and members of the Minnetonka Public Schools Foundation board came together in January of this year to introduce 192 new LEGO Education Spike Prime Sets to middle school classrooms. The new kits will replace older technology and provide students with an engaging, hands-on experience learning robotics. Using these resources, students at MME and MMW would not only gain knowledge that can be applied in future STEM careers, but also develop valuable critical-thinking, teamwork and innovation skills.

The Foundation’s Endowment Fund—the main force behind the project—enables the Foundation board to support a range of long-term, impactful projects, playing a fundamental role in honing and maintaining the high-quality curriculum of Minnetonka schools. The Spike Prime kits are only one of several projects the Foundation has funded to date, all of which demonstrate a strong dedication to student growth and learning. 

When asked why she supported the proposal, Foundation Endowment Committee Co-chair Rena Dragseth said, “I supported the LEGO Education Spike Prime sets because the existing kits being used by the middle schools were outdated, no longer serviceable and being sunsetted by LEGO. It also was likely that without support from the Foundation, MME and MMW would not receive enough funding to replace all the existing sets. I felt it was important that the middle schools have the tools needed to continue providing STEM and Tech Ed classes.”

The Spike Prime Sets, which incorporate colorful and user-friendly elements designed specifically for middle schoolers, also come with standard-aligned lesson plans that help foster the development of abstract thinking skills.

“I believe robotics teaches students to be innovative. It enhances creativity and problem solving; working through different ways to solve one issue requires teamwork, creative thinking, trial and error, persistence, and realizing that there isn’t always one single path to the solution. These are skills the students will benefit from long after they’ve graduated from Minnetonka,” said Dragseth.

Foundation Endowment Committee Co-Chair Deirdre Keller added that the Spike Prime Sets give students an opportunity to get involved with the type of mechanics that make up a vital piece of society. “Robotics are all around us—in healthcare, manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, and the list goes on. The pace of innovation in this field will only continue to accelerate. The LEGO Spike Sets enable further discovery into the field of robotics, which is core to so many fields that impact our daily lives,” she said.

“To have robotics experience early on allows students to explore their level of interest in this area and go on to further develop it,” continued Dragseth. “It…[prepares] our students for the future.”

In a variety of ways, the Foundation’s newest project has proven itself to be a detailed and promising one. The passion and dedication of staff, parents and board members have amounted to exceptional results, which will undoubtedly carry over into the new school year and impact the new class. Students at MME and MMW have been given the unique opportunity to explore a complex subject which will no doubt leave a lasting impression and foster success in their future paths.

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A students explains her capstone project using a visual poster for a visiting guest at June's Capstone Fair.

The Capstone program is an opportunity for Minnetonka High School seniors to participate in a two-week off-campus experience at the end of the school year. Through the program, students are able to discover new interests and further invest in their passions by exploring a career field, service work or a project of interest with a mentor in a real-world setting.