Current Endowment Project: LEGO Spike Prime Sets
In January of 2022, the foundation funded the purchase of 192 LEGO Education Spike Prime Sets to enhance and challenge the STEM Robotics curriculum for all middle school students at both MME and MMW.
Robotics supports foundational areas such as computer programming, artificial intelligence, and engineering. It is an integral part of cutting edge careers like UX Design, Data Science, Aerospace Engineering, and Software Development. The use of robotics has allowed complicated medical procedures to be simplified and the work of dangerous construction projects to be safer. When used in an educational environment, robotics helps students learn teamwork, leadership, communication, critical thinking, creativity and innovation. They allow students to work through complex logic problems and develop crucial problem-solving skills. Using robotics at an early age gives kids an ideal, safe environment to learn how to make mistakes and positively learn from those experiences.
New LEGO Spike Kits Inspire Innovation in Minnetonka Middle Schools
Teachers, parents and members of the Minnetonka Public Schools Foundation board came together in January of this year to introduce 192 new LEGO Education Spike Prime Sets to middle school classrooms. The new kits will replace older technology and provide students with an engaging, hands-on experience learning robotics. Using these resources, students at MME and MMW would not only gain knowledge that can be applied in future STEM careers, but also develop valuable critical-thinking, teamwork and innovation skills.
The Foundation’s Endowment Fund—the main force behind the project—enables the Foundation board to support a range of long-term, impactful projects, playing a fundamental role in honing and maintaining the high-quality curriculum of Minnetonka schools. The Spike Prime kits are only one of several projects the Foundation has funded to date, all of which demonstrate a strong dedication to student growth and learning.
When asked why she supported the proposal, Foundation Endowment Committee Co-chair Rena Dragseth said, “I supported the LEGO Education Spike Prime sets because the existing kits being used by the middle schools were outdated, no longer serviceable and being sunsetted by LEGO. It also was likely that without support from the Foundation, MME and MMW would not receive enough funding to replace all the existing sets. I felt it was important that the middle schools have the tools needed to continue providing STEM and Tech Ed classes.”
The Spike Prime Sets, which incorporate colorful and user-friendly elements designed specifically for middle schoolers, also come with standard-aligned lesson plans that help foster the development of abstract thinking skills.
“I believe robotics teaches students to be innovative. It enhances creativity and problem solving; working through different ways to solve one issue requires teamwork, creative thinking, trial and error, persistence, and realizing that there isn’t always one single path to the solution. These are skills the students will benefit from long after they’ve graduated from Minnetonka,” said Dragseth.
Foundation Endowment Committee Co-Chair Deirdre Keller added that the Spike Prime Sets give students an opportunity to get involved with the type of mechanics that make up a vital piece of society. “Robotics are all around us—in healthcare, manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, and the list goes on. The pace of innovation in this field will only continue to accelerate. The LEGO Spike Sets enable further discovery into the field of robotics, which is core to so many fields that impact our daily lives,” she said.
“To have robotics experience early on allows students to explore their level of interest in this area and go on to further develop it,” continued Dragseth. “It…[prepares] our students for the future.”
In a variety of ways, the Foundation’s newest project has proven itself to be a detailed and promising one. The passion and dedication of staff, parents and board members have amounted to exceptional results, which will undoubtedly carry over into the new school year and impact the new class. Students at MME and MMW have been given the unique opportunity to explore a complex subject which will no doubt leave a lasting impression and foster success in their future paths.
The Foundation's Endowment Fund
A stable, permanent source of income, the Foundation's $1.5 million Endowment Fund allows us to support long-term, broad impact, foundation board designated programming. It is managed by a professional investment firm in accordance with strict investment principles approved by the Foundation board. An investment committee of highly qualified volunteers meets regularly to monitor the investment portfolio.