Obama visiting one of eight schools using ASU program that teaches students how to creatively solve problems in community
Just two days after his final State of the Union address, President Barack Obama will make his first trip as president to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he will speak Thursday morning at McKinley High School.
McKinley High is one of eight schools across the nation partaking in the Innovation through Design Thinking (iDT) program, a product of Arizona State University’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation that trains teachers to embed entrepreneurial thinking in their classrooms.
Katherine Clemens, manager of K-12 initiatives for the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, helped develop the program to meet the growing need for more entrepreneurial and STEM-based curricula at the high school level, and especially among underrepresented communities.
“For students to be successful in the jobs of the future, for students to be able to solve the challenges of the future, it is critical that they have an innovative mind-set,” said Clemens. “To do this, we need to teach students how to think entrepreneurially and how to use an innovative design process, which is essential to the creative problem-solving process.”
In the iDT program, all of that is tied to real-world problem-solving in the students’ own communities, where they collaborate with local businesses to find solutions through the development of a mobile app — a process that is beneficial to both the students and the businesses.
“The feedback from the businesses has been great,” said Clemens, who often travels around the country to check in on the different schools, assess what’s working and make changes where necessary.
“They have so much enthusiasm about being connected to education and the students because they feel value in the fact that they’re teaching the students a lot. The students have enjoyed learning about small businesses and nonprofits because many have their own entrepreneurial ideas, and one of the goals of the program is to teach them how to make their ideas a reality, to show them what the day-to-day of that looks like, what the process looks like, and why it’s important to support local businesses.
“As well, the students are able to apply their knowledge and skills in a meaningful way that shows them how they can contribute to their community, and [the local businesses] are able to get an outside perspective, which is great.”