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SDCOE's Linda Vista Innovation Center Welcomes Students

3D printers are lined up at SDCOE's Innovation Center

As adults, we know that there’s often more to a problem than meets the eye. We have learned through trial and error that there could be several possible solutions to a problem. Life’s challenges are complex and layered, and the best idea may not be the right solution when put to use.

But that can take a while to figure out – and we’re all still learning.

That’s why SDCOE’s Innovation team at the Linda Vista Innovation Center is focused on preparing students for a future where they can meet those challenges through design thinking, an approach that fosters brainstorming and collaboration to build important skills to solve problems that don’t have textbook answers.

“Being open to ideas, working within a team, having empathy for those affected or involved – those are also skills and abilities that will help young people develop essential, in-demand skills in the workforce too,” shared Al Love, senior director of the College and Career Readiness team.

About three years ago, SDCOE bought the Linda Vista Innovation Center, a 35,000-square-foot building on the corner of Linda Vista Road and Comstock Street. It has been transformed into a design-thinking hub where students from districts and schools across the county can go through a future-ready bootcamp of hands-on exploration into different career fields, esports, and robotics, while exercising their critical-thinking skills.

There are three floors, 17 classrooms, and an outdoor classroom, in addition to the Bayside Community Center, which shares space at the building. The experience labs at the building are focused on our region’s growing industry sectors: advanced manufacturing/engineering, biotechnology, and information communication technology. There are three additional labs based on community feedback and need, such as a future-ready hub, a design-thinking lab, and a lab for middle school STEAM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

Programs in the labs were tested over the summer with about 100 students from San Diego Unified School District’s Level-Up program. They participated in eight days of exploring a challenge through design thinking and concluded with a podcast pitch of their product or solution.

Students from SDCOE’s Juvenile Court and Community Schools programs have also participated in manufacturing, robotics, and drone workshops to learn more and build skills related to high-wage, high-impact industries with a local talent shortage. The Innovation team also engaged with students from the Sycuan Tribal Education Center for similar learning experiences.

If students and teachers can’t come to the Linda Vista building, Innovation team members will bring tools, demonstrations, and projects to students in their own schools and classrooms. The team has brought one-week robotics and design thinking academics to about 400 students at 11 school sites in the past year.

“We’re creating and offering a customizable menu of experiences for teachers or principals to see what would be the best support to engage students and connect to their curriculum,” said Bryan Glasrud, project specialist for work-based-learning. “It’s about bringing it all together.”

This year, they plan to actively reach out to districts and schools about the Innovation Center, labs, and academy programs to connect with more students who have been historically underserved and marginalized.

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