*Evolving New Ideas was the name of the student-driven, interactive, LIVE technology showcase for the Michigan Association of Teachers Association in 1997 and for the National Association of Teachers Association in 1998 at the Renaissance Ballroom in Detroit, MI.
The Pontiac Holonomy Incubator is rooted in and informed by deep traditions of Design and Digital Innovation in relationship to the Detroit Big Three & International Auto Industry followed by a 20 year focus on K-12 Education.
Before turning to Education, Jim Ross founded two studios - RGB & Detroit Digital Design - where critical technologies were pioneered that contributed to the evolution of the Digital Photography, Graphic and Industrial Design fields. In 1991 and 1992, Detroit Digital Design Studio collaborated with the Industrial Design Society of America and many of the leading designers who had fled Michigan for California and New York, for an event titled "Design Studio of the Future" which was the theme for the annual "Eyes on Design" event held for Auto leadership at the Edsel and Elanor Ford House.
The mission was to demonstrate how digital empowered design as it had been marginalized to make way for engineering, CAD mass production, and a "bean counter," planned obsolescence culture.
Before bankruptcy visited GM and Chrysler in 2008 and before design was re-embraced, Ross became interested in education and in getting to the root cause of our lack of creative thinking and innovation in American business culture, shifting into the role of Director of the McMath Hulbert Solar Observatory for the next 15 years, starting a non-profit to renovate the historic site and to operate it as an informal science learning and research facility for K-12 and Higher Education. Through collaborations with education, civic & political leadership, the Observatory raised millions of dollars in grants for advanced STEM program and technological infrastructure development for the Oakland County Intermediate School District (e.g. Awesome Tech) & Pontiac Schools (e.g. Project Synergy technology grant, which was one of the the first pilot projects funded by the Mott Foundation for $5 Million and that became the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers program eventually raising more than $20 Million in funding for the Pontiac School District).
An example of a "Discovery Program" summer camp project was the 1997 Michigan Science Teachers Association's annual "Evolving New Ideas" themed conference held at the Renaissance Center ballroom in Detroit (& for National in 1998). Youth spent 6 weeks in immersive environments at the Detroit Zoo and the Observatory and video-conferenced with each other and with mentors studying marine biology at UC Santa Barbara. Live trucks were set up to broadcast the student-designed, interactive, cross-country/site presentations of all they had learned.
The power of this form of student driven learning was missed by its audience at the time and teachers and administrators inquired instead on how they might incorporate separate aspects of the show - such as the making of kelp beads - into their curriculum vs. the adoption of free form, project-based learning as a whole.
21st Century Digital Learning Environments formed in 2006 to develop additional partnerships for expansion into various Southeast Michigan sites (e.g. Oakland County Greenhouses, Boy Scouts D-Bar-A Ranch etc) to meet growing demand for a relevant, real world learning, Design Thinking & innovation ecosystem.
Now based in downtown Pontiac, MI - the Pontiac Holonomy Incubator at 4 N. Saginaw St. was formed with Co-Director Monica Williams, after committing to the Phoenix Center as a central focus for development - while beta-testing a Digital Design Thinking process platform for connecting and developing collaborative community projects. Community and a youth centered downtown within the framework of Innovation District / Placemaking initiative that serves as a framework for understanding and developing programs that facilitate 21st Century skills development, transportation, regional connectivity, organizational learning via systems / design thinking, creativity, and the design of environments that allow us to figure out our future together.