Did you know that there is a local high school program that is equipping kids with some of the most essential skills they need for a successful future? In this program, students are encouraged to flex their innovative, creative, and collaborative muscles to solve real-world challenges. Working in a unique and well-equipped space, these students have access to 3D printers, laser cutters, experienced mentors, industry professionals, and much more. Where can you find this opportunity?

Innovation Studio at All Saints Academy!

Innovation Studio All Saints Academy Lakeland Winter Haven

This post is sponsored by All Saints Academy, but all opinions are our own.

Recently I spent time with the students and Fellows in the Innovation Studio at All Saints Academy learning more about this unique program that is part of the yearly curriculum for grades 9 – 12.

During Innovation Studio courses students utilize computer software and hardware (3D printers, laser cutters, soldering irons, fabric, wood, recyclables) to navigate the creative process – from inception to completion – and design solutions for real-world problems. They also have access to industry professionals such as designers, engineers, and architects. This combination of technology plus experts makes Innovation Studios a powerful experience.

Another truly distinctive benefit of this program is its partnership with NuVu Studio in Cambridge, MA, which is a middle and high school solely focused on innovation. Two Fellows from NuVu work at All Saints Academy as teachers, coaches, and mentors to students throughout their Innovation Studio courses, bringing another level of excellence to this curriculum.

As I wandered through the building looking at past projects I was blown away that everything in front of me had been created by 14 – 18-year-old students at the school. While the prototypes were definitely impressive, I was even more interested in talking to the students about the non-tangible skills they are gaining from Innovation Studios.

Innovation Studio All Saints Academy Lakeland Winter Haven

What does an Innovation Studio project look like?

One of the teams I visited with is working on props for an upcoming theatre performance by Lakeland Community Theatre’s Out of the Box Troupe. They are charged with coming up with stage props to match the songs being performed, including “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from Hairspray. Comprised of freshmen in their first Innovation Studio class, this group has to figure out how the props will be moved on and off the stage, what lighting they need, and be sure that they can accommodate a performer in a wheelchair.

While students might finish the course with an interest in prop design, the intangible skills they are gaining will translate to any interest they have, because they are being challenged to work through the design process and create something that will actually be used by other people.

Innovation Studio All Saints Academy Lakeland Winter Haven

Another project being designed is an outdoor tree dwelling shelter. This project will provide both an enclosed retreat for someone seeking a peaceful hideaway, but can also open up to allow the visitor to be “one with nature.” As I held a previous version of their design {see photo above}, this group of three gentlemen from grades 9, 11, and 12 told me how they are delegating and collaborating as they work to make this project come to life. One member of their group is skilled at the computer program used to create the laser cutting design for making their small-scale model. Another member, who is skilled at building, will assemble the model. The third, who excels at communication, is presenting the project in layman’s terms.

Other projects have included 3D printed prosthetics, sensory sculptures for Bonnet Springs Park, innovative pet products, modular play structures for kids, and an interactive art display for Lakeland Regional Cancer Center.

Innovation Studio All Saints Academy Lakeland Winter Haven

Students showing me the prototype hairspray can that incorporated fiberoptics to simulate hairspray coming out. They went back to the drawing board when they realized a tube large enough to accommodate a wheelchair would be hundreds of dollars. Their next iteration will still use the same elements but less expensive materials.

Applying Their Skills

So, the question remains…how do these hands-on projects translate into students who are problem solvers, critical thinkers, and self-starters?

Throughout their 4 years in Innovation Studio, students learn to work together and to think outside the box. They are tasked with documenting their work, publicly presenting their projects, accepting constructive feedback, and using that feedback to improve their work. They are consistently developing their creative critical thinking skills as they work through multiple iterations of their project.

This hands-on training happens every single year of high school, so they are building a foundation that will serve them well in other school projects, but that will also become strengths when they enter the workforce as adults.

Although Innovation Studios start in 9th grade, All Saints Academy introduces students to the concept of Innovation beginning in preschool. Grades 2 through 5 utilize a robotics STEAM curriculum, and foundational classes in innovation and design thinking begin in 6th grade. These project-based classes encourage middle school students to collaborate and think critically while exploring software and hardware. Click here to read more about Innovation at All Saints Academy.

Innovation Studio All Saints Academy Lakeland Winter Haven

Let’s dig in a little deeper on a few of the skills developed in Innovation Studios:

Collaboration – Most Innovation Studio projects are done in a team, and are often mixed between grades 9 through 12. Students quickly learn how to work together, listen to each other people’s ideas, sell their teammates on their own ideas, find each other’s strengths, and assign project components based on those strengths. With mixed-age groups, juniors and seniors also share their wisdom and experience with younger students in the group.

Iteration – When we fail at something, we might give up and move on to something new. However, Innovation Studio is teaching kids the process of “iteration” — the repetition of a process and the willingness to refine concepts. Students get feedback from staff and community partners, and continue to refine their project during the term. This is such a HUGE part of the learning process — to realize that solutions often require a willingness to take risks and to try different things.

Presentation – When I asked one student, a Junior, what he had enjoyed most about his Innovation Studio classes, he had an interesting answer… “I’ve enjoyed the public speaking aspect. We get to present our projects at exhibition nights, meetings with community partners, and to visitors like you, and I enjoy speaking to adults and fellow students about our project.” I think we can all agree that the ability to communicate effectively and confidently is a skill we would like to see in our own children.

Innovation Studio All Saints Academy Lakeland Winter Haven

Innovation Studios – Preparation for College AND Future Job Success

Throughout their four years of Innovation Studios, students document their projects in digital portfolios, showing growth and lessons learned over the course of high school. These portfolios become part of many students’ college application packets.

While All Saints Academy does have a college prep focus and celebrates a legacy of 100% college acceptance for each senior class, Innovation Studio is also preparing these students for real life beyond the classroom and for future employment success.

Imagine what a “leg up” a job applicant has when he or she has demonstrable problem-solving skills and the proven ability to think of new solutions! Both colleges and employers want self-starters with these skills, and graduates of ASA are gaining this knowledge early and using it to achieve incredible things.

Innovation Studio at All Saints Academy is providing the opportunity for students to develop these skills, preparing them for future success as creative problem solvers, thoughtful leaders, and dynamic team players.

Learn More

Book a tour and see the Innovation Studio for yourself. Tours are free and have no obligation. Tours are available for both the Lower School (PreK – 5) and Middle/Upper School and can easily be booked online for the date and time that best fits your schedule. Click here to see upcoming tour dates.

Book a Shadow Day – You can also schedule a day for your son or daughter to shadow a current All Saints student.

Scholarships are available including need and merit-based scholarships from the school. ASA also accepts the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (Step Up for Students) and the McKay Scholarship.

Curious about other aspects of All Saints Academy? Learn more about the entire school from our 2018 post – Lakeland Mom looks at All Saints Academy. 

Contact the Admissions Office at All Saints Academy for more information and to book a tour today!

Innovation Studio All Saints Academy Lakeland Winter Haven
April Mucci Lakeland Mom
April Mucci Lakeland Mom

About the Author: April Mucci

April is the owner of LakelandMom.com. She has lived in Lakeland since age 2 and is passionate about our community and connecting families with local resources. She is a mom to 2 boys and a mini goldendoodle, wife to Matt. You can often find April at the baseball field where she cheers on her baseball loving 11 year old, or home building Legos with her 9 year old. She loves reading, saltwater fishing, and working on Lakeland Mom!