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28.5.2019 | Arielle Evans & Ryan Coon |

Meet the Innovations Selected for HundrED's Spotlight on Pittsburgh

The HundrED research team and the Pittsburgh advisory committee have selected 12 innovations for the HundrED Spotlight on Pittsburgh.

Since launching in December 2019, the HundrED Spotlight on Pittsburgh has been searching for the most inspiring innovations created by educators in the greater Pittsburgh regionSpotlights are a way for HundrED to explore a location or theme thoroughly, gather deep insight into educational innovation in the Spotlight area, and then share those insights with the world.

“HundrED Spotlights are designed to identify 10 of the most inspiring innovations that focus on a location or theme, and then share those with the world to help spread what’s working in education.” said Lasse Leponiemi, Executive Director and Co-Founder of HundrED. “But Pittsburgh broke the mold. The response was so robust that we chose to expand our selection to 12 innovations. We’re excited to not just shine a spotlight on these 12 inspiring innovations, but to celebrate everyone from the Pittsburgh region who shared their expertise and wisdom with HundrED’s global audience.”

Through several months of outreach by HundrED and hard work by hundreds of educators and innovators in the Pittsburgh region, the HundrED Spotlight on Pittsburgh received 82 submissions from schools, museums, libraries, non-profits, government agencies, community centers, universities, research projects, and local companies. Each one offers a glimpse of the extraordinary things people in southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia are doing to help children in the region flourish.

Today, we're announcing the 12 selected for the Spotlight:

Fabricating Change in Mental Wellness: Students diagnosed with mental health conditions work side by side with social workers, therapists, and teachers in this digital Fab Lab at Intermediate Unit 1. The results: increased participation, improved engagement, and fewer disruptions.

The Finch: Borne out of research about what engages and excites students in learning computer science, this robot developed by BirdBrain Technologies can be programmed to do physical actions in 9 different coding languages. A free loan program makes it widely available to schools.

Global Minds Initiative: Founded, designed, and run by students, this after-school program combats intolerance by fostering intercultural friendships and global understanding. Immigrant and refugee students come together with their peers in safe, inclusive spaces.

Hillman Academy: At this 8-week full-time summer program at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, high school students perform cancer research under the mentorship of world-renowned scientists in a rigorous, supportive, real-world STEM environment.

JAM: Two first-grade girls' interest in making things to help their community has blossomed into an after-school maker learning program at Avonworth School District that is a catalyst for kindness in school and an engine for raising funds for community causes.

MAKESHOP: The first museum makerspace, this permanent exhibit at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh is a research-based learning environment where children and families make, play, and design using "real stuff."  And they offer professional development, maker learning resources, and more.

Manchester Craftsmen's Guild: This neighborhood-based community center is focused on educating and inspiring youth through the arts, with STEAM-based learning in four art-making studios. 98% of students who attend the program graduate high school on time.

Simple Interactions: This research project of the Fred Rogers Center creates free tools and resources to give educators a language for noticing and affirming their interactions with young children. These simple interactions support relationships between children and adults.

Summer Dreamers Academy: By combining the academic benefits of summer school with the fun of camp, this free summer program run by Pittsburgh Public Schools reduces summer learning loss while giving Pittsburgh students fun, enriching summer experiences.

The Labs @ CLP Summer Skills Intensives: Part of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's commitment to providing teen-driven programs and access to technology, these week-long summer programs offer teens a chance to explore topics like photojournalism, beat-making, filmmaking, and more.

transformED:  Allegheny Intermediate Unit is rethinking teacher professional development and support for school districts implementing innovative practices. At transformED, educators explore, discover, invent, and learn.

Youth Express: Students use the tools of radio to create and distribute original programming through Saturday Light Brigade's 24/7 radio station. Programming is based on the idea that when youth realize that their voice matters, they realize that they matter.



Over the coming months, the HundrED Pittsburgh team will work with each of the selected innovations to produce a report and video case studies to help educators from all over the world learn from these 12 Pittsburgh-grown innovations.

The report and videos will be released in September 2019 at a celebration of education, learning, and innovation in the Pittsburgh region. At this event and throughout the coming months, we'll be celebrating all 82 of the innovations submitted to the HundrED Spotlight on Pittsburgh. You can explore the 82 submissions here.

In November 2019, representatives from all 12 Spotlight innovations will travel to Helsinki, Finland for the HundrED Innovation Summit.


cover photo: Ben Filio for Remake Learning