By Matthew Kressy & Tom Woelper, New England Innovation Academy
When we began envisioning the curriculum for the New England Innovation Academy, one of the elements core to our requirements was real-world inclusion. Put simply, this is ensuring that the students at our school are able to take the concepts they’re learning and apply them in real-world situations, whether that is at businesses, nonprofit organizations, or within their communities in other ways.
Real-world inclusion is not uncommon at the university level. You see it all the time–internships or co-ops for example. At MIT’s Integrated Design & Management (MITidm) master’s program, which inspired NEIA’s curriculum, real-world inclusion is an integral part of the learning process. The faculty and staff of the program spend a lot of time thinking about how we can give students the experience of partnering with companies, organizations, or individuals that will give them true, non-academic feedback. In order to achieve a true human-centered design curriculum, we knew it was essential to provide a similar experience for our middle and high school students, though their younger ages present a different set of challenges.
Students in middle and high school, and even college, often…