Innovation in Education

Innovative Thinkers Camp




Innovative Thinkers Camp is open to Michiana area seventh- through ninth-graders. The camp is sponsored by numerous Notre Dame departments, as well as Intel, Lenovo, the Lincoln Division of Ford Motor Company,  the Pfeil Innovation Center, and local community agencies and organization


In addition to helping area students explore their potential, the camp also aims to cultivate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the Michiana region by nurturing the pipeline that feeds local economic development. This experience is designed for students to participate over three consecutive summers:

  • Year one, rising seventh graders will focus on learning about entrepreneurship and the skills necessary for individual success;

  • Year two, rising eighth graders will focus on project-based learning and will develop the competencies needed to be an effective member of a team;

  • Year three, as rising ninth graders, students will polish the skills acquired in the previous two summers with a capstone project that incorporates Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines and sustainability.

For more information, contact Jacquelyn Rucker, Associate Director, Community Relations, University of Notre Dame, 574-631-3249.



Engaged, Invested, and Committed to K-12 Education in South Bend – Imagination, Innovation, Discovery and Design (I2D2)

I2D2 Logo

Why do things work the way they do? And how can we make them work better? Engineers and scientists ask and search for answers to questions like these everyday. And on September 3, 2010, at Notre Dame’s Technological Discovery Day, 350 fifth-grade students from the South Bend Community School Corporation had the opportunity to work with Notre Dame students in the Colleges of Engineering and Science to ask and answer these same questions.

At the Technological Discovery Day’s “I2D2 – Imagination, Innovation, Discovery and Design at Notre Dame,” South Bend grade school children met for over three hours at the University’s Stepan Center, where they worked with engineering & science students on two active learning projects:


  • The Irish Pet Project: South Bend fifth-graders worked side-by-side with Notre Dame engineering students to brainstorm ideas for toy robotic pets that would be built using the LEGO®Mindstorms® NXT system. Then, at a later date, the future engineers will build the toys and demonstrate them at South Bend schools.
  • The 2010 Domer Freewheeling Derby: This time, the fifth-graders had the opportunity to work with the engineering students to design, build, and race LEGO® vehicles.

Thanks to the generosity of sponsors like Innovation Park at Notre Dame, LEGO®, David and Denise Brenner, Barnes and Thornburg, Emu Solutions, STEM City, Konica Minolta, and Graham Allen Partners, the fifth-graders also received lunch, a tour of the Notre Dame campus, and their very own LEGO® kit. Most importantly, they also took with them what it means to work as a member of a team, a basic understanding of how scientists and engineers test their ideas and, hopefully, were inspired by the newfound knowledge of the educational options available to them in engineering and the sciences.



Workshop Day –Oct. 22, 2010  Notre Dame JACC Field House


  • Introduction to fluid power
  • Building a pneumatic lifter
  • Receive challenge information and judging criteria

            Presented by Larry Davis –Daman Products

 Challenge Day – Dec. 3, 2010     Notre Dame Stepan Center

  • Construction and Testing of prototype
  • Competition

















Sixty seventh and eighth grade students and their teachers from nine South Bend intermediate centers participated in a National Fluid Power Association (NFPA) Fluid Power Challenge held at the University of Notre Dame on December 3, 2010. This event was sponsored by SBCSC Career and Technical Education, Daman Products Company, Inc., Notre Dame, General Sheet Metal Works, L.L. Geans Construction Co., and Barnaby's Pizza-South Bend. The competition challenged students to solve an engineering problem using fluid power.


To prepare for the competition, 15 teams of four students each designed and built a fluid power mechanism to perform a specific task. The students used hydraulics and pneumatics to power mechanisms that picked up weighted objects and placed them on a platform. On the challenge day, they competed against other teams in a timed competition to rebuild their mechanism.


Winners of the Fluid Power Challenge include:



  • Overall Champion: Team 7, Greene Intermediate Center


  • Team Challenge Champion: Team 13, Jackson Intermediate
  • Center Portfolio Champion: Team 5, LaSalle Intermediate Academy
  • Design Champion: Team 3, Edison Intermediate Center
  • Teamwork Champion: Team 14, Jackson Intermediate Center



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Did You Know?

  • Between 2007 and 2010 the University of Notre Dame added 384 full-time positions.
  • The Robinson Community Learning Center provided 202 children with 30 hours of tutoring services per child in 2010-11. Reading scores increased 18-20%, with over half of the students increasing site word recognition from 2-5 grade levels.
  • During the 2010 – 11 academic year, the Notre Dame Extended Research Community collaborated with more than 100 K-12 teachers and 6600 K-12 students in Michiana. Visits to classrooms included activities in biology and genetics, environmental science, engineering, nanoscience, technology, astrophysics, particle physics and computational science.
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  • Every day, Notre Dame hosts concerts, lectures, exhibits and sporting events that are open to the public. Visit the "Events” page to find events that interest you.
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