COVID-19 Plan for the Emerging Innovators Research Program

We will be able to have in-person classes this summer with fewer students and maintain physical distancing while also adopting other hygiene protocols for safety.

We will continue with the classes as scheduled. If for some unforeseen reasons we cancel the class, we will issue a full tuition refund.


Boost Your College Application


Get Your Research Article Published!

Description: Emerging Innovators Research Program focuses on equipping High School students with the knowledge and skills needed to develop and design Human-Centric Solutions and write their "ideal" conceptual solutions in the form of a university level Research Article.

Students demonstrate their skills in "Whole System Design Thinking" and through their solutions and research article are able to express the breadth and depth of their knowledge.

** Human-Centric Solutions is an approach to product/solution development that puts people first and focuses on user needs, desires and abilities at the center of the development process.

** Whole Systems Design Thinking is an approach that aims to integrate social, economic and environmental factors, interrelationships, and phenomena into a comprehensive design solution

Only the research articles that meet our guidelines and which passes our strict review process would be published.


  • Students must be willing to explore new topics and widen their knowledge.
  • Students MUST participate in all activities, have sincere interest in learning.
  • Students must be reading and writing at High school level.
  • Have aspiration to bring positive changes to humanity and/or this planet.

NOTE: This program is not for students with special needs.

Timeframe & Fees: 

  • Summer Session:  4 weeks full-day camps, Mon to Fri from 9 AM to 3 PM. 
  • School Year - 2 Semester Program: Students will meet once per week for 3 hours after-school. 26 weeks x 3 hours (Two semesters)= 78 instructor-led class hours
  • Tuition Fees: $1950 per student 
  • No Homework. All work will be done in the class.

Instructor & Mentor: 

Shanti Balaraman who will be teaching and mentoring this program has more that 20+ years corporate experience. She's been involved in human-centric solutions and the whole system design thinking for more than a decade and she wrote this curriculum. Over the years, she has taught professionals on innovation methodologies and as a parent was very keen since then to bring this knowledge to children.


  • Students learn and practice "Whole System Design Thinking" which is a skill that could be mentioned in their resume
  • The published Research Article could also be mentioned under “Publications” section of the resume
  • Students Research Work could be used for their High-School Senior Research/Capstone Project
  • The Published Research Article could be mentioned in their college applications especially it adds weight for Science, Engineering, and Business majors
  • The Instructor, who is also a STEM/Research mentor, could give additional letter of recommendation in the college application.
  • Students could present their Research Article in various conferences and events.
  • Students could take their newly acquired knowledge to next steps, and participate in science or design competitions such as the Biomimicry National Youth Design Challenge
  • Builds various soft skills as students go through this program
  • Students who wish to pursue further, are eligible to join our Youth Leadership Program that would offer leadership coaching and mentoring for aspiring leaders who would like to implement solutions at school and/or local community. 

Depending on the colleges and based on their supplementary questions in the application, students research and experience could be mentioned as a response to several types of questions, as It helps to highlight student's out-of-the-box thinking, intellectual curiosity to learn outside of school curriculum, demonstrates passion and ability to solve real-life problems.



Registration Open for Summer 2020. We are offering two summer sessions, for rising 9th to 12th graders in Fall 2020:

Session 1: (4 weeks) - June 15, 2020 to July 10, 2020

Session 2: (4 weeks) - July 13, 2020 to August 7, 2020

Monday to Friday  - 9 AM to 3 PM

Check out the Emerging Innovators Research Publication

Check out the 2 Semester Program Weekly Schedule

Emerging Innovators - Research Program - 2 Semester Program


"I loved the course I took at Children’s Innovation Center which taught about sustainability and how we, as innovators, can move forward in society with our practices in the process of manufacturing goods that solve humanity’s problems. Throughout high school, I’ve never learned or heard of biomimicry which shows how unique this class is. My college counselor (who’s been doing her job for almost 20 years now) was also fascinated by my research during this program and said she had never read anything like it. I believe this program can provide an edge for all students to familiarize themselves with the concepts as our society is continually moving forward in technological advancements, but I definitely think it is more beneficial to start earlier on. For me, a high school senior, I wish I knew about Shanti and her program four years ago cause then I could’ve fully utilized her resources and expertise. However, I did enjoy her class still, and it actually shifted my career interests. I’m thankful for Shanti and her aid and availability with any of my questions in the course as well as during the college application process. I’m excited to possibly further my research from what I began at Children’s Innovation Center as I take my next steps into college. “  -  Evelyn, student 12th grade

The program really changed my perspectives on various aspects of my life. After attending, I am able to question the functions of every system. I rethink every design in our society and have the confidence to develop a solution for problems posed in my community. This program was truly inspirational and opened my eyes to a new view of the world. - Nitya, Student 11th Grade

I had a great learning experience at Children's Innovation Center program. I really liked the first week when we learned how to create whiteboard animations, it was interesting and helped me understand how to use different types of software. In the second week, I enjoyed researching about issues and learning about different kinds of writing. The third week was probably the most beneficial for me, as I learned to open up with the help of a fellow classmate and my teacher and I gave a wonderful presentation. In the fourth week, I liked searching for a biomimicry-related research topic and I learned how to use the blueprints of nature to better establish our own society. In the final week, I felt satisfied as I wrapped up my research article and got it checked for errors often, I finished creating my biomimicry-inspired product and I finished writing my research article. Overall, the class was interesting, worth the time I spent there and also very beneficial in many ways. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give this class a 10 and would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about innovation and biomimicry. Thank you for helping me learn something new this summer! - Vineel, Student 10th Grade

The Emerging Innovators Program helped me become more communicable and understanding of my surroundings, and therefore enabled me to write and share my opinions about problems I see in my environment. Most importantly, this program explained how beneficial and important nature is to mankind, more than my schools ever did. Consequently, I became interested in the field of biomimicry, and now hope to someday incorporate it in my professional development. I enjoyed learning about different, nature inspired innovations, which peaked my interest in industrial design. Overall, I believe this program has helped me become a better, more conscious individual to the world I live in. - Ankit, Student 12th Grade

I never expected to learn so much from just over a month! This program has deepened by curiosity for the unknown. I have also developed so many soft skills that will be really useful for my resume ; furthermore improved my interpersonal skills. I never thought i would be equipped to write a serious university level research paper but now i know the essential steps needed to write any successful paper. I couldn't be more happier to have participated in this program and will totally tell everyone i know about its benefits and its impact on my life. - Isabella, Student 12th Grade

I enjoyed the program, overall. It was very well-structured, and all the content was very well-taught. Prior to this experience, I was not very keen on looking at the news and the world around me. This has made me more aware of what is going around me. The biomimicry segment has helped me appreciate nature more than I used to. Earlier, I used to just look at a tree and walk past it, but this program has prompted me to start observing more about its features and functions. The number of facts you can learn from just surfing the internet for 15 minutes about nature is astounding. What I have also noticed is that I have become more curious about everything around me, and now am very determined to help save the Earth however I can. Overall, this was a wonderful experience. – Shaunak, student 10th grade

Although this research paper took three weeks, I had enough time to observe the world for issues to solve, ask my own questions, research, design, and create a research paper. I was guided step-by-step in all the different parts of the research paper, and my work has been constantly checked and proofread to make sure I produced quality content. For me, the most challenging part was to figure out what was realistically possible. Designing a solution takes time and research. It is important to make sure that the solution I design can at least theoretically be possible. Also, it was a bit challenging to find a topic that also goes with my field of choice. In the end, my topic was close to the field that I want. Otherwise, everything else went pretty well. I am very lucky to experience such an opportunity to create a research paper and design a solution as a teenager! - Ananya, Student 12th Grade

This class has taught me a lot about expanding my knowledge and social skills. It has taught me about how to write a college level research paper, as well as the essential tips for writing any successful essay. Ms. Shanti is an excellent teacher and I am very happy and grateful she gave me a scholarship for this course so thank you so much! - Arianna, Student 9th Grade

When I came at first I felt very nervous. Later in a couple of days I felt more comfortable and I had fun recording my voice and making a video. We then started to learn about biomimicry which I thought was very interesting. Overall I think I had fun and I learned about researching and writing an article. - Dev, Student 9th Grade

The five weeks here were fun. I made new friends and had fun socializing with them. The research projects were fun and interesting to say the least. I don't think that there was really anything to change about the course. My take-away from this course is that the world is not going to be perfect but with more responsible innovations we can get close to it. - Elton, Student 11th Grade

I really liked learning about various concepts, like biomimicry and green chemistry. They were both concepts that I had never been introduced to before and it was interesting to see how they would be applicable in future real life design solutions. However, I think the program was mentally exhausting for me. We did have breaks, but it involves a lot of thinking. At the end I was very happy to see my completed research! - Shobha, Student 12th Grade

"I thoroughly enjoyed the five weeks I spent at this camp. I learned so much about biology as well as chemistry through this experience. With the help of this camp, I was also able to learn to write reports as well. Last but not least, I made quite a few friends and was able to learn so much from them as well." - Sadhana, Student 9th Grade

"I read my son's research paper and it's awesome and great! It's so nice to see how all the kids were able to get their inner thoughts out into a research-able article. Thank you very much for helping my son throughout the camp until it is published. The program has definitely boosted his confidence and interest in science." - Usha, Parent of 10th grader

“I wanted to inform you how much impact your course has on my daughter. She didn't see herself liking computer related field until your program.  She enjoyed it so much and have learnt a great deal that she wrote her college application essay on the work she had done in your course.  Now, she finds herself wanting to learn more about Programming and other interesting technology courses you have to offer. Thank you so much for opening her eyes to this amazing world of technology!  Your programs are truly unique!  She is now getting ready for college, feeling confident, and wanting to major in engineering!” – Fallon, parent of 12th Grader

Resources from our past

Geckboy - The Battle of Fracking

A science fiction based on biomimicry. Read science facts at the end of story.


Pavan Raj Gowda with Dr. Janine Benyus, Founder of Biomimicry


News Article published in Germany’s Deutsche Welle.

(DW is kind of like a German version of NPR. People all over the world read their articles and listen to their radio pieces.)

Read online review:

GeckoBoy – The Battle of Fracking – book appeared in the amazon’s bestseller Top 100 List


Other Useful Resources

Additional reading on emerging innovations

Storage Beyond the Cloud

A new way to store information in molecules could preserve the contents of the New York Public Library in a teaspoon of protein, without energy, for millions of years

By Caitlin McDermott-Murphy, Harvard University Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology - May 1, 2019

Design Thinking Brings Innovation to Health Care & Medical Education

Associate Professor Jyothi Marbin, MD, Director of the Pediatrics Leadership for the Underserved Residency (PLUS) program, is applying design thinking to help students and residents thrive at UCSF. She is applying this model for a human-centered, adaptive approach to train residents in the PLUS Program on key design thinking concepts.

By, Kacey Berry, MS2 - October 19, 2018

This Chemist Is Helping Farmers Replace Synthetic Pesticides With Natural Products

“We discovered that the product we were using wasn’t just able to control the disease; it was able to accelerate the ripening process,” says Rozek. “I now think that the power really is in nature,” she says. “Nature has all the solutions for the problems we are experiencing. All we need to do is understand it.”

by Nicholas Hune-Brown

Data and design thinking to shape the future of medicine, Stanford Medicine X | ED speakers say

“How is our experience with health care so bad at times? I think part of it is that health care wasn’t designed. It literally just happened by accident,” said Ku, the assistant dean for health and design at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University.

He offered a list of “design fails,” ranging from hospital gowns that fly open to X-ray images that can’t be transferred into a patient’s electronic record. He showed oral and rectal thermometers that looked exactly alike, and described how emergency departments have been known to reach the sound level of a highway or vacuum cleaner.  “It’s a passion of mine to think about how to cure our terminally ill health system,” Ku said.

By, Amy Jeter Hansen - Published on April 30, 2018

How to apply Design Thinking in Healthcare

Design Thinking in Patient Care

Patient care is not just about exchanging pleasantries and moving ahead with the treatment. When you apply Design thinking to this process, you will uncover ways in which care goes beyond the treatment.

By Quovantis - Oct 6, 2017

The Quest to Mimic Nature’s Trickiest Colors

An artist struggles to reproduce the iridescence of the natural world

It took a year of experimentation to understand how to turn the powder into a spreadable paint and mix it without destroying its optical qualities.

by, ELI KINTISCH - JULY 16, 2015