Students Tackle Real-World Problems in the Innovation Lab

The Nueva School in Hillsborough, California is engineering a new way of thinking for students. The Innovation Lab (I-Lab) teaches design thinking to prepare students with a solid mental framework for tackling real-world problems and brainstorming practical solutions.

Students approach new projects with one core question: “What do we need to do next?” This seemingly simple question propels students through six stages of the thinking process, each with a set of actions that enable the students to focus, generate ideas, and create prototypes. By working together as a team, the students are encouraged to see the unique contributions provided by every individual and to leverage these strengths to move as a group toward the best solution. The students motivate their teammates, provide constructive and supportive feedback, and exercise observational and active listening skills to gain new insights and perspectives.

These skills are reinforced with each new project, enabling the students to draw on past experiences – both successful and failed attempts – and to approach dynamic, open-ended projects with confidence and adaptability. This process enables students to gather the background information needed to make informed decisions and to improve their strategies at each stage of the process.

I-Lab was developed in partnership with the award-winning global design firm IDEO and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University (

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