Innov8 Courses​: Facilitating innovation through collaboration, critical thinking and communication.

Scroll across to view videos about the Innov8 courses for the spring of 2021.   Problem based learning and design thinking are at the heart of developing projects that are made public and impact the community.

Using Noteflight, a composition app, students will discover basic song forms and songwriting techniques that blend melody with lyricism to create their own music. Additionally, students will be able to perform their compositions for their fellow classmates and potentially the student body at large.

Course Descriptions:


Haley Topper

Beginning Robotics

In this course, you will learn how to program a robot, using block language, to function like a self-driving car. The final product will be a robot that can navigate a road like course and do things like stop at stop signs and avoid objects in the road. No prior coding experience necessary.

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Rachel Gordon

Field Biology: Birds

Students will monitor the 20 Bluebird nestboxes on campus and share their data by participating in Cornell's NestWatch Citizen Science program. Along the way, students will learn about the ancestry of birds, basic bird biology, and conservation issues facing a variety of bird species. As a final project, students will be asked to generate a scientific summary of their nestbox data and to develop a creative way to educate and share the data with the JPII community and general public.

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Introduction to Public Speaking

Mark Crowley

Do you get tired of people not agreeing with you? Do you get nervous or frustrated when you have to speak in front of even a small group of strangers? You are not alone! No matter what your current level of skill or comfort with expressing yourself to others, Introduction to Public Speaking can help you. Whether you love speech & debate and want to work on some of the finer points of your PVLEGS or if you get nervous at even the thought of speaking up in class, come be a part of Mr. Crowley’s Introduction to Public Speaking course.


Gaming the System: Examining Equity through Game Design

Bryan Melcher

When did you first learn to play fair? In Gaming the System: Examining Equity through Game Design, students will ask “how can I teach people to play fair?” by developing games as teaching tools to educate others on chosen areas of inequity. As a student in this course, you will explore the ins-and-outs of an issue you care about, and develop a game that will pass on what you learned to a specific audience. Take this class and create a game that might live on forever. You never know, you might make the next Monopoly (but hopefully your game will be more fun)!


Gear it Up! Advanced Robotics

Rebecca Jansing-Kaestner

In Gear It Up!, we will be working together to create robots that can do useful work in our community. The focus will be on motors, gears, and sensors to create an autonomous robot. In the end, you will showcase your robot to community members and fellow engineers. Beginning Robotics will be a prerequisite for the course


Haiti Love

Jennifer Dye

Haiti Love allows students to learn about Haiti, her people, the culture and their needs. While Partnering with Haiti 180, a non-profit organization that operates an orphanage, elderly home, a school and a medical clinic, students identify problems and needs of the people in the village. Teams form to develop solutions to those problems in an effort to take those solutions to the people through our mission teams that travel each summer. Everyone can be a missionary even if they never travel to Haiti by working to solve challenges to critical needs in Haiti through the Haiti Love Innov8 class.


Introduction to Video Game Design

Luke Diamond

At the end of this course, you will have successfully created an interactive, online video game that you can play with your friends and family. You will use the Python programming language to create a version of the 1972 Atari classic, Pong. You should take this course if you are interested in programming or video game design. No prior experience is necessary.

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A Good (K)night's Sleep 

Dr. Roxanne Valentino

What is happening in our brains and bodies when we sleep? How do we track and investigate sleep patterns? In this course, we will study the science of sleep and factors that affect sleep patterns. We will debate public health and safety issues related to sleep. Students will learn about some common sleep problems that affect teens, including sleepwalking, insufficient sleep, insomnia, and narcolepsy. At the end of the course, students will put together peer-directed content to unveil at Sleep Awareness Week 2021.


Show me the Money

Kyle Reynolds

Have you heard the saying “you can be anything you want to be”? You can, but you may not live the lifestyle that you are accustomed to. We take a deep dive into all things financial (career path and salaries, stocks, investing, saving, behavioral finance, debt etc) and help layout a roadmap to a life of financial freedom. You will pick a career, develop a budget, and see how you manage your money over time. At the end, you and your partner will see how well you have invested and spent your money for your retirement plan.


Tell Me Your Story...  A Narrative History of JPII

Preston Messer

Narrative history is the firsthand testimony of people's experiences of history. Some people worry that narrative history is factually inaccurate history. But we don't go to narrative history for just the facts; we go to narrative history to understand the sense that people make, the stories they tell, about their experiences of history. We go to narrative history to understand the human cost and the human experience of history. What is narrative history good for and what does it have to offer that standard histories do not? Oral history allows for the messy but inevitable human contradictions that exist around, between, and in spite of the facts. In this class, students will conduct interviews with community stakeholders about a historical theme that students have identified as the throughline for the class' collective project. In the end, students will create a podcast series that showcases the lived experiences of our own community.


Songwriting/Composition Through Technology

Mark Weakley

Using Noteflight, a composition app, students will discover basic song forms and songwriting techniques that blend melody with lyricism to create their own music. Additionally, students will be able to perform their compositions for their fellow classmates and potentially the student body at large.


Josh Mauthe

Senior  Assembly

Senior Assembly Innov8 calls for students interested in being the production team for next year's Senior Assembly. Students will hone their skills as writers, producers, and cinematographers in the Senior Assembly Innov8. This team will work to mobilize their peers and put on a strong production at the end of the year. You need not take this Innov8 to be involved with the Senior Assembly, but students in this class will spearhead the operation. This Innov8 is restricted to senior students.


David Krebs

Exploring Sustainability

How can we best use the resources of the one planet that we now all occupy to provide a safe and fair quality of life for all 7.2 billion of us? Can we also protect and sustain all of the other earth non-human bio species that share the environment with us during this same critical time period? Working together in this class we will explore these questions in as much depth as we can offer. We will also evaluate and test as many future sustainability strategies as we can imagine in detail. We will use some of the most up-to-date Sustainability modeling ‘tools’ now available to do this as well as work with the massive worldwide biological capacity and demand databases from the Global Footprint Network. Part of our effort will be to understand our own personal contribution to this important, contemporary issue. Through individual and small group projects, we will also look to identify and analyze personal, institutional and government potential solutions for this dilemma. No prior familiarity with this topic is required to join this Exploration as this will truly be a “Let’s learn this together!” effort.