Inspired by IDEO, the world’s leading design agency, Stanford’s dschool , MIT Media Lab, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and NUVU Studios, Learners at Catalyst Studios develop creative thinking and critical making while practicing human centered design thinking to design and implement solutions to  real world needs of their own communities and interests. 

Core Studios, are intentionally co-designed by Learners and Coaches to build standards based competency skills and to apply core academics. Catalyst has created a library of prompts aligned in a scope and sequence with each standards to ensure that core content is integrated into the process.  From building to music to game development, these core studios provide Learners opportunities to become open to new possibilities of using their interests to create economic and education opportunities. 


Commission Studios,  are where Learners  take on real world client projects commissioned by Catalyst corporate partners. Catalyst has created strategic relationships with local and global organizations to provide Learners the opportunity to create a portfolio of real world work. 


Open Studios, are where Learners  identify their own passion challenges. For those Learners who have developed a passion or have identified something that they want to explore, Coaches bring together the materials, tools and partnerships for Learners to give form to their ideas. 

This spiraling format empowers Learners to develop the mindset of change makers, develop skills in a more directed format, develop independence through “just in time learning” and experience the application of their skills in the real world. They learn to use materials to communicate their ideas in any industry. 

Social innovation and entrepreneurship is emphasized in studios to build opportunities for Learners to develop as capable and empathetic global citizens. This may involve games for social good, products, technologies, and services. 


Each studio utilizes the Design Thinking  approach to learning, where Learners learn to  build EMPATHY for the humans that they are designing for. Utilizing effective questioning , interview skills and observation tools, they learn to look beyond their own ideas and to really walk in the shoes of the people that they are seeking to help. 

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) and Maker-Centered skills like creative coding, physical computing, rapid prototyping, app development, and AR/VR  are available to build prototypes and products in every studio.   Utilizing a bias to action where "show not tell" is a fundamental mindset, Learners learn to effectively Communicate their ideas while fostering active problem solving. 

The Studios are often available for free tinkering as well outside of the program. Learners are welcome to play with the tools and materials on their own time. This tinkering/playing time is very important and built into lunch time and in the late afternoon. 

At Catalyst, the Radical Collaboration mindset is encouraged to facilitate the development of leader, follower and collaborator skills with radically diverse multi-skilled/disciplined team. For most of us, this skill is something that must be developed deliberately. 

Presentation, Critique and Documentation are key components to Studios. Learners document using professional photography and video along with written reflection every day. This helps coaches to determine the best ways to support Learners and for Learners to archive their work and process. Individual goals are reflected upon in documentation and is included in final portfolios. 

Real world Exhibitions happen at the end of each studio. Some are requests for additional feedback from the people that they are designing for. Others are to share their process to Catalyst community and serve as practice. 

At the end of each year, Coaches work with Learners to curate selections from the years work into their permanent digital portfolio to be used for college applications.