CRANBERRY TWP — Haine Middle School's unique, new creativity and research lab is a finalist in a national competition that honors innovation.
Seneca Valley's Creativity Innovation Research Center, or CIRC Lab, is a finalist in the Edison Awards, an annual competition that recognizes excellence in new product and service development, marketing, human-centered design and innovation.
Seneca Valley's CIRC Lab is one of three finalists in the Living, Working and Learning Environment category in the Makerspaces subcategory.
“We nominated Seneca Valley School District for this award because they have demonstrated leadership and a commitment to innovation in their schools,” said Ken Burk, chief executive officer of the Inventionland Institute.
The CIRC Lab was created through a partnership with the Inventionland Institute, the education wing of Pittsburgh-based Inventionland, a company that helps inventors take their products to market. The institute encourages students to learn through project-based learning and the CIRC Lab was its first immersive classroom design.
“At Inventionland Institute, we have 'Conditions before Innovation' that are shared with schools in assessing innovation,” Burk said. “These conditions are: leadership, environment, discovery method, co-learning and perseverance. We found Seneca Valley School District to be a top tier school district in this regard.”
The Edison Awards, established in 1987, are named after inventor Thomas Edison. Nominations were reviewed by the Edison Awards Steering committee and then reviewed by an independent judging panel made up of more than 3,000 professionals.
Seneca Valley is the only K-12 public school on the list of finalists in categories that include consumer goods, medical/dental, science, social innovation, industrial design, energy and sustainability and transportation and logistics. Other finalists in 2018 include PPG Industries, Dow Chemical Company, Procter and Gamble, Sleep Number, GOPro and Thermo Fisher Scientific.
The winners of the gold, silver and bronze Edison Awards will be announced at an awards ceremony April 11 in New York City.
Burk said the Edison Award is prestigious in the world of creativity and innovation.
“We are very proud to be part of the team and look forward to seeing the growth and development of the students who have the opportunity to experience CIRC at the Haine School in Cranberry,” Burk said. “This is only the beginning.”
The CIRC Lab is a colorful, vibrant area that includes chairs, tables and desks on wheels that can be rearranged to fit whatever the lesson is for that day. A tree house greets students and visitors as they enter the room. The room was formerly the middle school library.
Sean McCarty, assistant superintendent of elementary education, said it is an honor to be considered for the prestigious award.
“Recognition such as this demonstrates an investment in children and acknowledges the importance of encouraging creativity and innovation from a young age,” he said. “The fact that this is coming from another industry, one which understands and values the efforts of public education, is very gratifying.”