Looking for Summer Student Programs?

South Dakota Innovation Lab presents exciting Summer Student programs at Dakota Wesleyan University, Mitchell campus, including Robotics, Art & STEM, and Limnology. Space is limited, register now! Click here for more information.

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FITC 2014
Forensics in the Classroom – South Dakota Innovation Lab

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Redefining The Rural Schoolhouse


The best and most successful innovations of today stand on the shoulders of yesterday's good practice. This works the same in education, as in all sectors of society. The aspiration of education is to deliver rigorous and relevant knowledge through engaging methods or pedagogy. The challenge is to use available tools such as technology and human resources in the most efficient and sustainable way to achieve quality education for our children.

The South Dakota Innovation Lab offers a rural education model that embraces community and geography. The model employs known instructional strategies creating an innovative replicable process that is flexible enough to take on differing community worldviews, agile enough to inspire teachers, and powerful enough to deliver rigorous education in a holistic and customized way.

Success in rural education depends on acknowledgement of two important factors; "one size does not fit all" and the willingness to explore beyond the "tried and true" traditional practices.

Member Benefits of the SDIL Initiative


A shared common vision ensures that all SDIL schools:

  • Develop, promote, and utilize innovative, and replicable approaches grounded in research to improve STEM education with measurable learning outcomes.
  • Provide professional development opportunities to enhance teaching and learning in STEM content areas.
  • Advance capacity of student critical thinking skills to address 21st century job skills.
  • Create sustainable partnerships between K-12 education, post-secondary institutions, businesses, and community organizations supporting innovative STEM education.
  • Promote STEM literacy within high risk populations leading to more students pursuing STEM education and careers through tailored learning pathways.
  • Demonstrate the relationship between school improvement initiatives and the implementation of TPBL as a means of achieving greater student academic success

Process and Criteria for Success

  • Share resources.

  • Participate in The Sanford PROMISE program with Sanford Research.

  • Join a weekly virtual brainstorm where teachers join the statewide cohort bringing forth and solving problems together.

  • Work with PAST STEM Coordinators in intensive all-day professional development at regular intervals through the year.

  • Work with PAST STEM coordinators when they make school site visits.

SDIL Initiative Partnership

  • partner-mid-central

    The Foundation:
    Supports SDIL Initiative deployment and sustainability.

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  • partner-sanford

    The Promise:
    Provides rich content resources and access to equipment and expertise.

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  • partner-past

    The Process:
    Designs holistic system transformation and rigorous professional development.

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Our Board & Staff

Rural Schools Set The Standard


The 19th century factory model no longer works effectively in today’s world. SDIL students learn to be critical thinkers, collaborative problem-solvers, and self-reliant. SDIL students are creative, innovative, and have a connection to the community and the world in which they live.

Since its inception in 2011, the SDIL Initiative has impacted 20 districts, 329 teachers, representing 6705 students. SDIL STEM Coordinators and the Initiative partners have held 244 school visits, workshops and virtual brainstorming sessions in 2012 alone. SDIL invites you to be a part of re-envisioning learning and help build rural America’s new educational model.

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The Fling

The Fling

The Fling is a Science Technology Engineering and Math [STEM] centered challenge and competition for students of all ages. High School participants will design and build trebuchets, 5th through 8th grades build catapults, and 2nd through 4th grade students build mini-catapults. Along with this classroom-built machinery, students have an opportunity to design heraldic banners, and modernize a scene from a famous Shakespeare play.

Grades 2-12 | October 9th | 10am-2pm | Indiana Ave & 10th St, Platte, SD

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“Cutting edge thinkers say peer learning around problem sets is a critical element of the future workplace, where continuous learning is the only way to cope with continuous technologic change [...] The demand is huge.

It is worth noting, however, that South Dakota is pioneering this method.

— Forbes

Quentin Hardy, “South Dakota, Internet Learning Pioneer.”

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Mid-Central Educational Cooperative


The Foundation.

The Mid-Central Educational Cooperative believes that equal opportunities and access to programs for all students is part of the purpose of education and should be enjoyed by all students. The Cooperative functions to enhance those educational services and opportunities for all students regardless of school district affiliation and to encourage maximum utilization of cooperative efforts among school districts.

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Sanford Research


The Promise.

Sanford Research is a non-profit research organization formed between Sanford Health and the University of South Dakota. Sanford Health is an integrated health system headquartered in Fargo, ND and Sioux Falls, SD and represents the largest, rural, not-for-profit healthcare system in the nation with a presence in 111 communities, eight states and three countries. Sanford Health employs over 20,000 staff and 1,000 physicians, and conducts research programs designed to support its five centers of excellence, including Cancer, Children’s, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Heart and Women’s.

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The PAST Foundation


The Process

PAST Foundation provides teachers with a process to deliver meaningful education. “Meaningful” differs for every learner. The PAST designed toolkit enables entire communities to transform traditional classrooms and reach every learner. The results are engaged students, empowered teachers, and a community actively involved in student success.

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Our People

SDIL Board

SDIL Staff