Spotlight 2019

Pittsburgh, USA

Educators in the Pittsburgh region are taking risks, reaching higher, and pushing the limits of learning. Find out what we learned from taking a closer look at the education innovations flourishing in the "steel city" in 2019. This Spotlight broke the mold—we couldn't settle on just 10 innovations to highlight, so here you'll find 12 innovations that are impactful in their local context and scalable for education contexts around the world.
Together with The Grable Foundation & Remake Learning

Education Innovation Forged in the Steel City

In 2019, HundrED partnered with the Grable Foundation and Remake Learning to produce the HundrED Spotlight on Pittsburgh, our first Spotlight in North America, to shine a light on the educators and innovators doing extraordinary things to help students in southwestern Pennsylvania flourish.

More than 80 schools, museums, libraries, and community centers in Pittsburgh shared their innovation with HundrED to show how they’re harnessing the power of creativity, ingenuity, and innovation to help children thrive. Together with our partners in Pittsburgh, HundrED identified 12 of the most inspiring innovations in the Pittsburgh region to share with the world. 

The story of each of these innovations is captured in this collection of short video documentaries and in the innovation profiles below, where you'll learn more about their origin and impact, see step-by-step guidance for recreating their approach, and find contact info to get in touch with the innovators.

The HundrED Spotlight on Pittsburgh research report collects these innovations together with a detailed overview of the education ecosystem in Pittsburgh, the areas of strength that make innovation possible there, and the opportunities for change that drive the region’s commitment to helping each and every child can reach their full potential.

Cover photo by Ben Filio for Remake Learning.

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Innovations

Explore education innovations recognized by HundrED as well as innovations from shared by the education community across the world.
The Pittsburgh Project
The Pittsburgh Project is committed to revitalizing our city by supporting its most vulnerable citizens and equipping its young people to be change makers. We believe that by reimagining out-of-school
innovation
College in High School for all
By partnering with the Community College of Allegheny County, we offer students college credit for all core academic courses and many electives. Students can easily complete a General Education Certi
innovation
T. E. A. M. S. Model
Our mission for the T.E.A.M.S model is to inspire special educators to rethink, redesign, and re-envision what special education is in order to realize every student's potential.
innovation
School of the Future-Nazareth Prep
The future of learning is here. Personalized, hands-on, and technology rich, Nazareth Prep is reinventing education critical to building and maintaining a diverse, competitive Pittsburgh workforce. Th
Be the Change: Empathy and Mindset for Civics Learning
Stepping away from traditional civics knowledge, this day-long museum experience uses a change agent mindset to ensure content is more relevant to students. The framework for understanding historic pe
The Cognitive Tutor for Analysis in Genetics (CTAG) is not just for genetics!
Even with reforms, biology still overwhelms students with minutiae. Too often students end up being taught to fill in multiple choice tests, rather than appreciate the beauty of biology, which is cha
innovation
Computer Science Immersion
The Canon-McMillan School District believes computer science should be accessible for all of its students. And thanks to a unique co-teaching model, it is. Teachers and students in grades K - 4 use co
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Summer Dreamers Academy
A no-cost, premier summer learning experience providing the academic benefit of summer school along with the fun of summer camp. Through a mix of high-quality, engaging instruction by certified teache
The Future of Fashion
This one-day event is to expose girls (ages 8-16 years old) to people, places, and possibilities available for designing and creating new products/services to foster and entrepreneurial spirit. Partic
PGH in 360: Youth Perspectives
PGH in 360 has two main purposes: to allow young people to share their views on issues that matter to them, and to introduce them to creating immersive media through producing 360-degree videos. Youth
innovation
Teaching Core Academic Concepts Through Theater and Dance
How often does a teacher tell their students to get out of their seats and dance around the classroom? That's exactly what students in grades 3-6 at Turner Intermediate School did to explore various t
innovation
Student Powered Solutions (SPS)
Student Powered Solutions (SPS) elevates teachers and propels students to take charge of their own learning by empowering them as partners with local businesses. Leveraging concepts from Project-base
Bring Your Kids Home-Innovation, Creation and Repurposing Spaces
The Duquesne Elementary School (DES) has repurposed many classrooms to meet the changing needs of students in grades PreK-6. Over the past few years, DES has repurposed multiple rooms in the 106 year
Brick Makerspace powered by LEGO® Education solutions
The Brick Makerspace at Montour Elementary School (K-4), a Title l school, is a one of a kind learner-centered space giving students opportunities to design, make, and think creatively.
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Youth Express
When youth realize that their voice matters, they realize that they matter. Since 2013, Youth Express has used tools of radio to create and distribute commentaries, discussions, documentaries, and oth
Remake Learning Days Across America
RLDAA is a multi-day festival designed to help parents, families, and caregivers engage in innovative education that youth experience when they make, code, play, design, and tinker. With dozens, even
Achievement Consultation
Achievement Consultation focusses on female youth experiencing negative behaviors and/or behavioral health issues. This process combines the teaching techniques of our “Blueprint-To-Achievement”, a s
P2W
P2W, Portal 2 the World, is a platform that enables educators and learners virtually travel around the world. P2W provides a synchronous and asynchronous platform for global language learning with DG
innovation
The Little District That Could...And Did
Within Quaker Valley School District, academic excellence and talent development peacefully co-exist. Academic Specialists are teachers with specialized training who promote advanced educational expe
innovation
Formative Years of Digital Literacy Integration
Students may be able to use any type of new innovative technology, but it does not mean that they can use it effectively or as a tool of their learning. We have developed a system that creates digita
CMU CS Academy
The K-8 space is filled with engaging yet simple computer science (CS) content. The next time many students see CS is in an AP computer science class. Schools are lacking engaging curriculum to bridg
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The Finch Robot
This educational technology tool can be programmed in five different coding languages, from Scratch to Java, making it immediately accessible to learners of any age and ability. A free loan program an
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MAKESHOP
This research-based learning space is a permanent exhibit inside the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. MAKESHOP is a drop-in environment where children and families make, play, and design using “real s
innovation
Aquaponics System
We developed an ongoing lab space for ideas to be developed and tested out by student-led innovation and instruction. Our inspiration was drawn from global food insecurity, and wondered how we could
Girls of Steel Robotics
Girls of Steel is more than a robotics team; our mission goes past building robots for competitions. While building robots, we're building futures.
Project Prism
Project Prism, a team of graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University, created a free-to-play game to engage a generation of children to grow up with increased awareness and understanding for their
HoloLAB Champions
HoloLAB Champions is a virtual reality (VR) chemistry game show, where players complete lab experiments to become champions of lab practice. In the game, players interact with materials that replicate
innovation
Bridging the Gap
While Federally Funded TRIO Talent Search programs have been in existence since 1965, Penn State University has spent over three decades rethinking how to meet first generation and low income students
Dream Flight Adventures Educational Simulators
We blend technology, engineering, and science with social studies, humanities, art while also teaching over forty 21st-century skills. In addition to these, each mission also includes its own unique
Veterans Website
The student created, student managed Kiski Area Veterans Website, established in 2016, showcases local veterans stories while honing Biographical Research skills. Combining Gigapan Technology with the
innovation
City as Our Campus
City as Our Campus is an extension of our core academic curriculum and augments it by providing real-world experiences. By working with diverse members of the community, students don’t just gain under
innovation
Brokered Learning Pathways: Young Naturalists
Partnerships between teachers and non-formal educators play an important role in connecting teens who are interested in nature with people, programs, organizations, and future learning opportunities.
Underwater Rovers
Building underwater rovers is a hands-on, educational experience that integrates all aspects of STEM. Students build rovers comprised of low-cost, easily accessible materials. Students learn engine
innovation
Energy Innovation Center Design Challenges
Through Design Challenges, students from different schools partner with local non-profits, businesses, and universities to respond to real-world problems. With advice and guidance from local experts,
Mentors in the Making
Low-income students are paired with STEM professionals to co-learn digital fabrication technologies, from 3D printing to CNC machining. The mentoring pairs meet once a week in Fab Lab Carnegie Scien
innovation
Avella Aquaponics: From Fish to Food
The aquaponics system is designed to give students a hands on learning experience to explore a sustainable method of growing food in a self-contained area. Students observe and work within the nitrog
innovation
SOY (Supporting Our Youth) Pittsburgh - Latino Community Center
SOY Pittsburgh is an evidence-based, bilingual PK-5th grade out-of-school time program that prepares students for success in school and life through academics, experiential learning, social-emotional
innovation
Technology and Data Fluency Project
Fluency explores how technology/data can serve as tools to enhance the voices of teachers and students. Being “fluent” means gathering information, reconciling it with personal experience, and influen
Combining Agriculture, Technology, Careers, and Community Service
Students in the Advanced Hydroponics Management course at Trinity High School use concepts of agriculture, chemistry, and biotechnology to grow over 800 heads of lettuce and other vegetables and herbs
innovation
OPDC Future Makers
Through OPDC's Future Makers program, students become confident in public speaking, clear and articulate in interviews, earn certifications to boost their skill sets, write top-notch resumes, and crea
innovation
Opera TOTS!
The Opera Tots! program invites pre-K to 1st grade children to actively participate in learning new vocabulary, melodies, dances, rhythms, characters, and story elements of a child-appropriate version
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Simple Interactions
A practice-based, strengths-focused, and community-driven approach to support educators by affirming the importance of positive, responsive, and supportive human interactions in learning and developme
innovation
The CS-STEM Network
The CS-STEM Network offers free robotics curriculum that educators can use to teach students computational thinking concepts. As students work through the activities, they provide evidence in the form
innovation
K-12 Computational Thinking Pathway
At South Fayette School District, students are designing musical instruments out of cardboard and copper wire, then programming them to play music. They’re coding commands to make robots solve challen
Mpower Studio - Pittsburgh Obama Academy Makerspace
MPower Studio is a place full of endless opportunity to express creativity, to be innovative, to promote purposeful collaboration, and to be your best self. This high tech student-centered, project-b
innovation
ArtEd21
Art education, the original makerspace, is reborn in the 21st century as the all-inclusive, cross-curricular, creative amalgam that it once was in the Renaissance. Using 3D printers, Lego blocks, vid
innovation
Startable Pittsburgh
Startable Pittsburgh™ is a free program that teaches high school students entrepreneurial and maker skills. Students work in teams to design, prototype, build, brand, and market products of their own
Carnegie STEM Excellence Pathway
The Carnegie STEM Excellence Pathway is built on the belief that school systems, individual schools, and departments can improve their STEM education practices through a positive, collaborative approa
innovation
Puzzlets
Our technology effortlessly toggles between real and virtual worlds. Our coding game called "Cork the Volcano" can be played with BlueTooth enabled or USB connected devices. We have a math game "Aba
innovation
Justice Scholars
Our theory of change includes teaching students about the opportunity gap in educational achievement in low-income communities of color and giving them the tools to challenge it through cultivating an
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Manchester Craftsmen's Guild
Founded in 1968 on the belief that environment shapes behavior, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (MCG) has grown from a community-based ceramics program into a cornerstone of Manchester Bidwell Corporatio
innovation
Leadership Studies Class/Curriculum
Students learn about leadership and through a partnership I developed with the University of Pittsburgh, can earn college credit. Students learn different theories, such as Kouzes & Posner's Leadershi
innovation
PHASE 4 Learning Center, Inc.
Breaking the school-to-prison pipeline through Innovative and unique approach of academic and career success. Focused on relationships, acceptance, tolerance and celebration of diversity, PHASE 4 tr
Expii Inc.
Expii is an online learning platform that lets students choose how to learn high school level math and science by providing multiple learning styles. Expii’s practice problem algorithm provides studen
NoRILLA
NoRILLA is a new mixed-reality learning platform bridging physical and virtual worlds to improve children's inquiry-based STEAM learning, fostering their curiosity. Continuing research at Carnegie Mel
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JAM
When two first-grade girls came to their teacher with the idea to start a business that donates profits to charity, a maker-learning program became an incubator for young entrepreneurs. When the girls
Message from Me
Message from Me (MfM) serves as a tool for young children to communicate with their families about their daily activities and learning experiences through the use of digital pictures and recorded audi
Auberle's 412 Youth Zone
The 412 Youth Zone provides a variety of resources and opportunities that fosters a healing environment that promotes learning and creativity. We strive to create positive learning experiences outsid
Vlog University
The shift in modern media has changed the way we consume information and are influenced. This change has also altered how businesses & nonprofits market. VlogU embraces this shift to empower youth fro
Global Challenges
All students in the Global Challenges course dive deeply into the UN Sustainable Development Goals to develop a global perspective and to discover a problem that they are passionate about solving. St
Trust in Noticing
Trust in Noticing is an approach for teaching and learning. Although trust may seem obscure, “anything essential is invisible to the eyes” (Antoine de Saint-Exupery). This approach supports childr
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transformED
transformED offers radically relevant professional learning experiences that emphasize hands-on practice with new ideas, skills, and tools, together with a technology lending library, grant funding, a
innovation
Emerging Leaders Program (ELP)
ELP is a workforce development and college readiness program for 155 low-income seniors in 5 high schools. During the school day ELP carries out weekly sessions, one on one meetings with the students
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The Labs @ CLP Summer Skills Intensives
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s 18 locations have dedicated space where teens can hang out, mess around, and geek out. Each summer, Intensives offer teens a chance to spend five days exploring a crea
Alliance for Refugee Youth Support and Education
ARYSE is a student-centered organization supporting immigrant and refugee youth in becoming engaged, confident, and celebrated. Through out-of-school-time programs emphasizing creativity, ARYSE youth
innovation
Community Partnerships Support Next Generation Success
We are preparing students to be the next generation of leaders and innovators in high priority occupations, such as advanced manufacturing, by forming partnerships with industry professionals in our c
Creating a Culture of Possibility
Wheeling Country Day School has intentionally designed a culture to multiply innovation. We support teachers to create innovative programs that engage students in topics that matter and impact their l
innovation
PEERbot Learning Programs: Social/Emotional Learning with Robots
Capitalizing on the archetypal human/robot relationship that all ages possess, PEERbot Learning will reduce inhibition in Early Learners and inspire a deep desire to connect with the social robot; to
innovation
Simcoach Skill Arcade
Youth are not aware of careers that may be a great fit, nor are they on a path to get there. Industry can't fill jobs with qualified talent. We are using free video games to engage youth about interes
innovation
OPDC School 2 Career
OPDC's School 2 Career program breaks the cycle of poverty by giving high school students academic support and paid internship opportunities with employers across the city of Pittsburgh. 100% of our s
innovation
Stories Alive!
Stories Alive! provides interactive learning, collaboration, mentoring and creative STEM activities that enhance social, emotional, physical and recreational experiences of elementary, middle and high
innovation
STEAM Education for At-Risk Residential Youth
STEAM Education initiatives take place with the youth in our organization, who range from ages 8-18. With our mobile STEAM and Maker Labs, youth are able to participate within the residential setting.
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Global Minds Initiative
In schools across the United States and Canada, students from over 50 countries meet after school to combat intolerance and foster intercultural friendships. Designed, led, and run entirely by youth,
Mindfulness in the Classroom
Creating calm, managing stress, and promoting teachable moments through reflection are just some of the techniques North Allegheny School District teachers and staff members have implemented with stud
innovation
Collaboration Nation, Inc.
Collaboration Nation is a collective of educators, organizations, and networks - who are committed to re-imaging and re-making learning in schools by advocating for equitable collaboration by leading
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Hillman Academy
Each summer, high school students perform authentic research alongside world-renowned scientists at the Hillman Cancer Center and throughout the University of Pittsburgh. By engaging students in a rig
innovation
Stop-Motion UN SDGs
The KCIS grade 7 are studying the design thinking process and the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Their task is to create a stop motion video in which they would address at least one
innovation
The Queen's Gambit Chess Institute
Imagine a world where every child has the tools to succeed and uses those tools to spark change in their community. We teach chess in areas where students don't have regular access to education, and w
Elizabeth Forward High School FABLab
In 2014, Elizabeth Forward High School transformed a traditional wood shop with band saws, lathes, table saws and sanders into a digital fabrication playground. In the Industrial Age, students went i
innovation
Inventionland Institute Curriculum
Inventionland Institute’s courseware brings innovation and collaboration into the classroom. Using state-of-the-art technology, students enter a world of hands-on, project-based learning that teache
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Fabricating Change in Mental Wellness
Students diagnosed with mental health conditions design, build, prototype, and learn at Intermediate Unit 1 Educational Campus at Colonial, an alternative education school. The collaborative environme
Equitable Student Broadcasting
With no television studio, no allotted class time, no budget, and one second-hand computer, we set out to create a student-run broadcast each morning for our students. Because of all of our constraint
Mend the Gap, Powered by Kimche
Schools around the world have long struggled to provide every student (especially those most vulnerable) with a personalized educational experience. We automate data processing & create meaningful vis
e-Missions: Live Learning WorldWide
For 20 years the Challenger Learning Center of Wheeling has presented live video-conference simulations of space and medical emergencies to classrooms around the world. Our e-Missions immerse students
ProjectArt
ProjectArt establishes public libraries as enriching local spaces where youth engage in free afterschool visual art classes. We aim to facilitate the development of students’ self esteem, critical thi