Sustainable development is a worldwide recognized social and political goal, discussed in both academic and political discourse and with much research on the topic related to sustainable development in higher education. Since mental models are formed more effectively at school age, we propose a new way of thinking that will help achieve this goal. The authors undertook this study in the context of Russia, where the topic of sustainable development in education has been yet poorly developed. The authors used the classical methodology of the case analysis. The analysis and interpretation of the results employed the framework of the institutional theory. Presented is the case of Ural Federal University, which has been working for several years on the creation of a device for the purification of industrial sewer water in the framework of an initiative student group. Schoolchildren recently joined the program, and such projects have been called university-to-school projects. Successful solutions for inventive tasks contribute to the formation of mental models. This case has been analyzed in terms of institutionalism, and the authors argue for the primacy of mental institutions over normative ones during sustainable society construction. This case study is the first to analyze a partnership between a Federal University and local schools regarding sustainable education and proposes a new way of thinking.