Special Series: Learning Innovation

Four of Pittsburgh’s leading media organizations — WQED Multimedia, NEXTpittsburgh, 90.5 WESA and Pittsburgh Magazine — have joined forces on a 12-month initiative dubbed “Spotlight on Learning Innovation.” Made possible through a grant from the Grable Foundation, the project will focus on Pittsburgh’s leadership in the international movement to “remake learning” and create educational opportunities designed for our times.

Learning Innovation focuses on the Pittsburgh region’s need to prepare its young people for college and the work force by building on the basics and connecting students with hands-on learning experiences that develop relevant skills.

STEAM Innovation
3:30 am
Fri July 25, 2014

From Building Solar-Powered Mini-Cars to Creating Apps in the Classroom

Teachers at the STEAM Innovation Summer Institute at South Fayette School District work with littleBits to bring engineering into their K-4 classrooms
Credit Photo by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

Summer camp — it’s not just for kids anymore. 

Teachers from around the Pittsburgh area and from as far away as Alabama this week attended the STEAM Innovation Summer Institute at South Fayette Intermediate School to learn how to embed robotics, computational thinking and game design into their curricula.  

Amidst lights flashing  and lots of beeps, elementary school teachers are playing with, or rather experimenting with, littleBits — tiny circuit boards engineered to snap together with magnets.

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STEAM Learning
7:45 am
Thu June 26, 2014

From 'Pantry' to 'Kitchen': Transforming the Way Teens Use the Library

Using the graphic editing software Adobe Illustrator, 11-year-old Winston Bell participates in a lesson on ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics at The Labs at the Carnegie library’s East Liberty branch.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

People often think of the library as a place to sit quietly while reading or studying.

But the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is challenging that stereotype by turning the library into a creative hub for teens.

It was the second week of June, and Pittsburgh Public Schools had been out of session for two days. And yet, half a dozen teenagers and pre-teens were sitting around a table, enthusiastically engaging in a lesson about ancient Egypt.

“What do we know about Egypt and why was it such a big deal?” asked Oliva Hric, museum educator with the Carnegie Library of Natural History. “Can you think of anything in the landscape that maybe would make Egypt a really great place to live?”

“Because they were on the Nile River they could have had a good water supply,” answered 12-year-old Jonathan Freeman, clearly familiar with the concept.

Freeman and the other teens weren’t at summer school; they were at The Labs at the Carnegie library’s East Liberty branch.

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Education Innovation
7:58 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Going Beyond the Girls' School: Ellis Innovation Institute to Pilot, Research, Share Best Practices

The Ellis School has launched the new Learning Innovation Institute to pilot, create and share innovative practices with the ultimate goal of improving learning outcomes for students and teaching outcomes for instructors.

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Behavioral Health
5:13 am
Tue April 22, 2014

How This Little Robot Could Make A Big Difference For Kids On The Autism Spectrum

Tess Lojacono holds Romibo, a social therapy robot designed to aid therapists and teachers working with children with special needs.
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Ethan Welker is a 15-year-old freshman at the University School, a private college prep school in Shadyside. His mom Michele Welker says he’s a smart and curious boy.

“Around the age of 7, he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum with Asperger’s,” Michele said. “(Asperger’s is) one of the higher functioning levels of the spectrum.”

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Computer Science
3:30 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Meet Caroline Combemale: Cyber Student, Teen Teacher and Lead Guitarist

Fifteen-year-old Caroline Combemale teaches computer programming language Scratch during a recent session at Assemble Pittsburgh.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

Caroline Combemale moves to her own rhythm. She has been shaped by a loving family, a tenacious personality and a hunger for new experiences. But her life has also been shaped by hardship.

The 15-year-old grew up in Belgium and often lapses into hushed French when she talks to her mother Laura. When they moved to Pittsburgh, where Laura is originally from, Combemale (pronounced Coom-beh-mel) was in grade school.

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Early Childhood Education
8:47 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

From Homewood to Harrisburg, Childcare Providers Seek Resources

Two-year-old Khalil Kyte romps around a play area at the Homewood Early Learning Hub on a recent Tuesday. In addition to activities for kids, the Hub offers resources and training opportunities for childcare providers.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

Three-year-old Aubreaune stands behind an easel showing off her painting of a T-Rex.

“It’s green and purple," she says. "It eats people. Roar!”

She’s among a group of preschool-aged kids and childcare providers who gathered at the Homewood Early Learning Hub for play time on a recent Tuesday. Besides activities for the kids, providers and families use the center to find resources, and share best practices.

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