PROJECT HIGH FLIGHT
Inspiring students of all ages to dream big, and reach for great things…
…including a good education rooted soundly in a foundation of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
Our New Approach
Project High Flight is an educational initiative that engages students in exercises and activities that are intended to help reawaken their natural creative, innovative, and leadership abilities. This new approach to education, called “Creativity Centered Leadership”, is accomplished through a systematic four year sequence of classes designed to prepare students to be as creative and innovative as possible. Sir Ken Robinson, an acknowledged expert in the field of creativity and innovation, has defined creativity as the ability to come up with novel ideas and concepts that are useful in some way, and innovation as the act of putting those novel ideas and concepts into practical application. The first year of the sequence reacquaints students with their natural creative abilities and the three follow on years help the students develop the skills needed to bring their novel ideas and concepts into practical application.
While creativity alone may be undertaken individually or as a team, true innovation almost always requires a team approach. Working efficiently and effectively with a team requires a special set of interpersonal and organizational skills. These skills may be broadly defined as supervisory, managerial, and leadership, where: 1) a successful supervisor is a someone who has enough interpersonal skill to coordinate the efforts of multiple workers towards the accomplishment of specific goals, 2) a successful manager is a successful supervisor who also has the knowledge and expertise needed to develop and execute complex plans that establish goals for others to achieve, and finally, 3) a successful leader is a successful manager who also has a clear vision of what needs to be accomplished. That is to say they already understand what is not yet, but ought to be. This brings us full circle back to creativity, because a successful leader needs to have full use of their natural creative abilities to form those visions.
This new educational initiative takes place within the framework of a strategic triad of immersion in business enterprise, policy development and advanced technology. All three legs of the strategic triad are engaged simultaneously throughout the systematic four year sequence. Regarding business enterprise immersion, a new business will be used to facilitate commercial development of all aspects of Project High Flight that help meet some unmet need in the market place. This includes consulting with industry in creativity related areas like new product development, and providing management training workshops. It also includes commercial development of all useful technologies related to high altitude ballooning, particularly those related to long duration missions. Immersion in policy development is facilitated through participation in a program modeled after Miami University’s Inside Washington program. Project High Flight students visit with leaders in both the state and federal government and inform them about issues that are important to STEM education in general and to Project High Flight in particular. Researching and developing advanced technologies is part and parcel to Project High Flight. Students use the engineering design process to solve a wide array of technology related problems, mostly related to facilitating long duration high altitude balloon missions under remote control from the ground. Learning how to execute all three legs of the strategic triad in harmony is an important part of learning how to lead effectively, because taken all together and used wisely, they are key to exercising real power for change.
A pertinent measure of success for this new approach is that retention among students from all academic disciplines, including all the STEM disciplines, is well over 90%, year after year. The resulting impact on STEM graduation rates will be significant. Let us know if you are interested in starting a chapter of Project High Flight at your school.