“We’ve gone from the Model T to the Tesla and from the switchboard to the smartphone. Yet high school has remained frozen in time.”

Encouraged by my father, a public high school physics teacher back in New York, I attended a Changemaker session for The XQ: Super School Bus last week at the College for Creative Studies. XQ is an organization aiming to reimagine the American high school experience through their support of “Super Schools.” The 10 Super Schools that XQ has selected have each won $10 million to execute on their bold visions. The schools all utilize project-based learning curriculums to explore career paths and global challenges beyond the classroom. One of the schools selected is the Grand Rapids Museum High School, which aims to turn a museum into a high school. They will utilize field experts, scientists, and researchers as co-teachers to expose students to real world problems.

Aside from XQ’s support of their partner schools, their bus is also traveling the country to engage with organizations aiming to improve education in local communities. At the Changemaker event 6 organizations pitched about their work in Detroit. Their initiatives ranged from bringing students up to grade reading level to students looking to open their own afterschool community center.

During the event we were asked to reflect back on our own high school experiences. Long days spent in a desk memorizing facts did little to prepare me for my current position as an engineer at General Motors. What sticks out in my mind much more are the days when my Dad would come into my classes to demonstrate simple machines. Loading kids onto two ends of a two-by-four balanced on a sawhorse made force balances equations come to life.

At a time when our country is facing challenges from sagging infrastructure to climate change, we need our students engaged in their high school experiences. We need to create problem solvers and engaged global citizens. I hope XQ encourages and inspires our Detroit public schools to head in that direction.