Tempe Union's Innovation Center Blog

  • March 2023 – Tempe Geeks Night Out

    Posted by IC Team on 3/31/2023

    March was another busy and fulfilling month for the Tempe Union High School District Innovation Center. We attended Tempe Geeks Night Out and had a great time! We had a booth set-up where we showcased our program and gave attendees an opportunity to work on mini hands-on projects as well as check out our 3D printing capabilities. We were very heartened by the warm reception from the community members at the event! 

    IC at Geeks Night Out

    We finalized our curriculum framework in our project-based LMS (learning management system), Headrush Learning. This will allow our students to manage their projects, track their progress, and collaborate with their classmates. We're really excited about this new tool, and we think it will be a valuable resource for our students. We also finalized our grading practices for our courses. We want to make sure that our students feel empowered while still being held accountable for their work. We believe that we have found a good balance between these two goals.

    Additionally, all of our employees completed ACEs training. This training is designed to help our employees create a positive and supportive learning environment for our students.

    We are excited about the progress that we have made in March, and we are looking forward to a great year at the Innovation Center!

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  • January/ February 2023 - New Year, New Center: Paving Partnerships & Breaking Ground at the Innovation Center

    Posted by IC Team on 2/28/2023

    McCarthy building site picThe IC team is cementing a new foundation with partners and with their center. We had the honor of attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of McCarthy Building Companies’ new Innovation Craft and Workforce Center. The facility provides career development opportunities for tradespeople. McCarthy is a strong community partner with the IC and will provide authentic projects for students to complete when we open in July.  Partnerships like McCarthy’s are at the heart of the TUHSD Innovation Center’s project-based program. We will continue to celebrate our partners and are excited that they are working with our students.

    In addition to McCarthy’s new facility, the TUHSD Innovation Center has invested in a physical space, breaking ground on construction. The site is conducive to collaboration, featuring zoom-rooms, comfortable and trendy furniture, and a design studio with high-performance technology. The equipment includes but is not limited to 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines, vinyl cutters, soldering irons, and sewing machines. Once completed, we will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Stay tuned for details!

    IC Logo Image Mark

    Another exciting development is the Innovations Center's logo. This icon reflects the program’s focus on innovation and collaboration and features a design that represents the vision and mission of the IC with its compass design. This compass symbolizes direction, logic, and focus– key components of the traits that students will grow when they are working on authentic problems for the community. 


    IC mets with Dr. Temple Grandin through Zoom pic meeting

    Additionally, IC facilitators met with Dr. Temple Grandin, a renowned scientist and advocate, for individuals with autism, from Colorado State University. Dr. Grandin shared her experiences as a visual learner who struggles with autism. She discussed the importance of valuing all students’ abilities and diverse learning modalities.  After re-designing the cattle industry, so that it is more humane, she is focusing her efforts on education, encouraging schools to re-implement the industrial arts to engage visual learners. It was an honor to meet with this educational icon.

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  • November/ December 2022 – Open Houses, Registration, and Projects: Oh My!

    Posted by IC Team on 12/21/2022 12:40:00 AM

    The Innovation Center team hosted two “Open Houses” in November. During these meetings,  we offered information to prospective students and interested parties. We were amazed by the amount of interest from the community as we introduced the Innovation Center to a packed house!

    The Innovation Center hosted two successful open houses - guest gather at the Innovation Center Cafe

    These open houses fueled our registration. Throughout the month, members of the Innovation Center team spent time at each of the six high schools as they chatted with interested students and enrolled them in the IC. Every school has different processes and schedules, but they definitely all had one facet in common: The students are excited to attend our program.

    The team meeting with our partners at the Heard Museum.


    We know all of those excited students need engaged community partners and authentic projects. With that in mind, the Innovation Center team continues to build strong relationships with our community liaisons. We are thrilled to share that we’ve been immersing ourselves in project-development by visiting new partners and attending community events, networking with future ones. Our partners are remarkable; we cannot wait to see the kids in action working with them! 

    Please feel free to reach out to us by email to learn more: ICTeam@TempeUnion.org

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  • October 2022 – Open Arms and Open Houses

    Posted by IC Team on 10/28/2022 3:30:00 PM

    The leaves are changing color, but the Innovation Center team remains consistent as we push onward for our students next year. This month, we visited Iowa Big, a high school program in Cedar Rapids that uses project-based learning with its students. This immersive professional development affords us the tools and resources necessary to create the best program possible for our students!

    The team at Iowa Big in Cedar Rapids

    We learned some profound practices and how to apply them within our program. 

    We are looking forward to implementing them. The team has also been working closely with our sister schools, at TUHSD, to learn about the counseling process. Each of the Innovation Center learning facilitators will be placed within one of the TUHSD high schools to assist students with the IC program’s registration process for July 2023. 

    Further, our Open House will take place:

    • November 2nd and November 16th
    • Both dates will be from 6 – 7 pm.
    • The event is at our Innovation Center, 490 W. Guadalupe Rd., in Tempe.

    We hope to see you there! 

    Reach out to us by email to learn more: ICTeam@TempeUnion.org

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  • September 2022 – A September to Remember

    Posted by IC Team on 10/11/2022 4:00:00 PM

    While the weather is starting to cool-off, the Innovation Center team continues to heat up! We’ve been busy building partnerships, with community organizations, that will lead to amazing projects. 

    We have been visiting our partners for next year’s students. One such trip was a visit with  T-Gen, a genetics laboratory that works on projects to assist people with treating cancer and other hereditary conditions, amongst other initiatives, and McCarthy Construction, a national construction company known for operational excellence. 

    The Innovation Center team tours McCarthy Construction
    The Innovation Center team tours McCarthy Construction

    On our own homefront, the Innovation Center is going through a massive redesign, with plans for next year’s makerspace. It will include cutting-edge tech and tooling that students will need to complete their projects. 

    As a team, we have grown immensely, as we continue to plan our projects and other logistical entities for next year. Stay tuned for more updates on the center in October.

    Reach out to us by email to learn more: ICTeam@TempeUnion.org

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  • Go Team Go: The Innovation Center Grows its Roots

    Posted by Mary Powell, PhD on 9/2/2022

    August has been a busy month for the Innovation Center team! We have been in full-swing designing our program from the ground-up and connecting with local community partners who will co-host projects for our students during the 23/24 school year. 

    We held four community events which included organizations such as: Intel, Blue Origin, ASU, Core Construction, and the Maricopa Community Colleges District… just to name a few! Within the next couple of weeks, we are meeting with the organizations to discuss future partnerships for next year’s students.

    Community partners engage in a word cloud activity during one of our events

    Community partners engage in a word cloud activity during one of our events.

    Meanwhile, we continue to work closely with Dr. Connie Kamm, former English teacher-leader for the Tempe Union High School District. Her consulting firm, Kamm Solutions, employs powerful professional development with the Innovation Center team — Dr. Mary Powell, Matt Zarchin, Gerry Foster, Jason Parsons, Rhianna Rodriguez, and Dr. Christine Barela. Thus far, our workshops are focused on creating mission and vision statements, values, goal-setting and working as a high-performance team. These workshops, including readings and planning materials, afford us an opportunity to learn with and from each other, and inspire us to grow as a cohesive team. In turn, this teaches us how to model high-performance teams for our students. 

    Reach out to us by email to learn more: ICTeam@TempeUnion.org

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  • Meet Tempe Union's Innovation Center Team

    Posted by Mary Powell, PhD on 8/29/2022

    Who is the Innovation Center and What is Our Purpose?

    The Tempe Innovation Center is comprised of six dedicated and diverse individuals, five teacher-facilitators, and a program director. We are thrilled to design and implement this project-based high school program.
    Operating within TUHSD, our team connects students with local government agencies, businesses, colleges, and non-profits to work on authentic, real-world, and community-based projects. Students will earn up to nine credit hours, including honors and or dual/credit if they so choose, as they work on these projects with our partners. 
    All learning at the Innovation Center is collaborative, student-centered, and student-driven. Within project teams, our students learn all of their subjects together, working cohesively, to share their expertise and problem-solve ideas generated by community partners. 
    Reach out to us by email to learn more: ICTeam@TempeUnion.org

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