Grande Innovation Academy Brings Experiential Learning to Scholars

Experiential learning gives scholars an edge by allowing them to actively create knowledge instead of just passively consuming it.

Students are more focused, engaged and leave with higher subject retention when they’re learning from hands-on projects. In a time when many schools have adopted a worksheet philosophy, the Grande Innovation Academy (GIA) in Casa Grande has established a learning environment focused on a variety of tactile and kinesthetic programs.

Patty Messer, the Executive Director at GIA, has successfully developed creative spaces to teach the “whole child” with a growth mindset. By incorporating everything from back-to-basics to technology, scholars use multiple areas of their brains with lessons that include talking, movement, and use of their hands.

As part of a “whole child” education, health and wellness is taught in kitchen and garden classes. Scholars grow their own plants and apply hands-on science lessons by charting the process from germinating seeds to the kitchen. In the kitchen, scholars learn how to follow recipes, calculate serving sizes and eat healthy.

GIA fosters a culture around technology and is the only school in Arizona with a Situated Multimedia Arts Learning Lab (SMALLab). Fully integrated with GIA’s curriculum, the SMALLab is a room-sized 3D interactive environment designed to motivate scholar interaction and productivity. GIA scholars learn while out of their seats by collaborating with other students in group efforts.

To enhance attention spans, creative skills and academic performance, GIA scholars experience an outdoor classroom, art and Spanish classes weekly, with PE every day. For fun, GIA scholars heighten critical thinking skills as they problem solve their way to the top of the rock-climbing wall.

GIA has an active Fab Lab complete with 3D printers and industrial-grade fabrication tools. This STEM fabrication laboratory offers scholars a place to create, tinker, learn, mentor and invent while collaborating with a global community of educators and scientists.

The Grande Innovation Academy is a Pre-K through 8th grade charter school. To find out more visit