February 22, 2022

‘Mission: Invent’ Encourages Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Students

Andrews University will host STEM-focused event to highlight hands-on education.

Moriah McDonald, Andrews University News

In July 2022, Andrews University’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) division will host the conclusion of the first “Mission: Invent,” an initiative encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship in students attending K–12 Seventh-day Adventist schools in the United States and Canada. During Mission: Invent, students will select real-world problems, create solutions using engineering design methodologies and entrepreneurial skills, and showcase their projects to peers at invention fairs.

“Participating classrooms or schools must host an invention fair, like the traditional science fair except projects are carried out in teams,” Monica Nudd, STEM coordinator for the College of Arts & Sciences, said. “We want students to develop a love of math and science by designing and modeling a solution to their problem.”

The teams are encouraged to solve problems they might encounter in everyday settings like home, school, church, and their community. “It could be something as simple as keeping your coat from falling off a hook at school or designing something that would help pick up all the dog’s toys around the house,” Nudd said. “Students should ask parents, grandparents or other trusted adults about problems they face or things they wished could be improved.”

Winning teams from each school will be registered to participate in an exhibition and awards ceremony hosted by Andrews University on July 11, 2022. The STEM division hopes to hold the celebration in person on the Andrews campus.

“Invention and innovation are skills that prepare students for the 21st-century job market,” Matías Soto, director of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, said. “Both established companies as well as small businesses are in desperate need of inventors and innovators who can transform their businesses to deal with the constant changes happening in the world today.”

“Mission: Invent helps students to learn and develop innovation skills from an early age, so that [the skills] become part of their education. This prepares them for both the demanding curriculum of college and for the real-life job market,” Soto added.

In addition to working on projects to showcase at invention fairs, students involved with Mission: Invent will have the opportunity to learn basic engineering and invention skills in the classroom. Nudd worked with colleague Michael Bryson, engineer and Andrews alumnus, to create workbooks, assessments, rubrics and other resources for K–12 teachers to utilize when implementing engineering topics into their curriculum.

Via Zoom, Nudd and Bryson conducted live, interactive training sessions for Adventist teachers in August, October and November 2021. During these meetings, teachers were introduced to the fundamentals of engineering, design thinking and inventing, and contributed ideas to solve sample problems.

“There’s nothing better than hands-on learning to cement knowledge in a young person’s mind,” Soto said. “This program offers the opportunity for students to do active learning, team collaboration, problem solving, and goal-driven work. All those skills are invaluable to students.”

Andrews University has partnered with other Adventist universities and conferences across North America to establish an advisory committee for Mission: Invent. Members include representatives from AdventHealth University, Burman University, Central California Conference, La Sierra University, Loma Linda University, Pacific Union College, Southern Adventist University, Southern Union Conference, Southwestern Adventist University, Walla Walla University, and Washington Adventist University. The committee plans to guide the rotation of Mission: Invent to participating universities in the future.

Mission: Invent was made possible through a grant awarded to the Andrews University STEM division by the Versacare Foundation in spring 2021. Established in 1990, the Versacare Foundation serves Seventh-day Adventist ministries and other humanitarian efforts with financial grants.

There is still time to participate in Mission: Invent in 2022. Teachers interested in receiving training can visit the Mission: Invent website and start the hands-on fun in their classrooms. Homeschooled students are also welcomed to participate. For more information on Mission: Invent, visit andrews.edu/go/invent.