The Innovation Center of St. Vrain Valley Schools: An Investigation of Essential Skills and Diverse Student Enrollment
Campbell, Cherisse M.
Henn, Steven C.
Kock, Meri l.
The Innovation Center of St. Vrain Valley Schools provides STEM-based educational experiences to students in a 50,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility in Longmont, Colorado. Several local business and industry partners support the center’s programs through financial contributions, and donations of equipment and materials, and their employees volunteer time as mentors for students on multiple projects as well. Opportunities at the Innovation Center (IC) include field trips, maker spaces, a mobile lab, high-school-level courses, after school programs, and paid work experiences. The district requested assistance assessing the impact of its programs on the development of Essential Skills, formerly called 21st Century Skills, among the students who enrolled in the courses or participated in its after-school programs. Additionally, after reviewing IC enrollment figures, analysis indicated demographic trends inconsistent with the district’s broader demographics, including overrepresentation of white male students enrolled at the IC. Based on these interests and conditions, we framed our study around the following project questions: How does the IC impact non-traditional student outcomes - in particular Essential Skills such as collaboration, communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, self-direction, and creativity? How do student and faculty/staff perceptions of IC courses, programs, and communications, coupled with outreach strategies, impact enrollment trends and demographic composition?