at Fay School Design, build, learn! The Fay School Innovation Lab is a 3,000 square-foot lab space open to Fay faculty, staff, and students from Kindergarten through ninth grade, with dedicated spaces for designing, programming, building, and tinkering, as well as video and audio production. The iLab introduces students to the world of invention, design, and creative problem solving, and they participate in hands-on activities that offer real-world applications of engineering and design principles.When students design, build, iterate, and revise their creations, they learn important life lessons about creativity, grit, failure, and success.
What’s in the Innovation Lab? • a Design Space for brainstorming and collaboration where students are inspired to think and work like professional designers, responding to real-world design briefs. The space is set up with individual workstations conducive to creativity and the design process. The space also features a full green-screen wall for video production. • a Maker Space for building and construction, with shelves of “low tech” tools and materials suitable for hands-on building. Students have access to a range of hand tools and equipment, including saws, rasps, and clamps.
Fay’s Innovation Lab is made up of four rooms: • a Fab Lab that includes tools for 21st-century fabrication. Desktop computers equipped with 3D imaging software are connected to a rear projection table, a 3D printer, a subtractive printer that cuts into foam with a dremel head, a 3D imager, and a vinyl cutter. • a Tinker Space dedicated to project work for students across all disciplines and grade levels, where students have access to tools and materials for projects that support learning in mathematics, science, the humanities, and the arts.
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Who uses the Innovation Lab? In the Upper School, seventh and eighth graders take Creators’ Class as part of their regular scheduled rotation. Students in ninth grade can also choose from design electives that take place in the Innovation Lab, such as Product Design and Architecture. Beginning in Primary School, students are actively engaged in the design thinking process in their own classrooms, with hands-on projects that encourage creativity and problem solving while developing a beginning understanding of engineering principles. By the time students reach Upper School, the are ready to take on the more advanced tools and challenges in the Innovation Lab. The Innovation Lab is directed by David Dixon, an award-winning educator and innovator who created the Design and Technology program at Tonbridge School in Tonbridge, England, and recipient of the Design and Technology Association’s Subject Leadership Design and Technology Award.
What’s the Brief? Students in the Innovation Lab learn about design as a process: identifying a problem and the target market, generating design specs, building and testing prototypes, and ultimately creating a finished product that is useful, functional, beautiful, and sustainable. Over the course of their time at Fay, students create projects that incorporate a range of media and materials, including circuitry, robotics, wood, paper, and textiles.
Case Study: Converse Shoe Design Fay recently teamed up with the Converse Shoe Company for a sneaker design project. Twenty-four Upper School students with an interest in design spent nine weeks working with Peter Hudson, VP of Global Design & Innovation at Converse, to develop an “all-round” sports shoe targeted to the teenage market that incorporates smart technology. Students generated a wide range of ideas, including self-tying sneakers, sneakers with removable outsoles for different terrains, even sneakers inspired by our indoor turf field!
Tinker with a Purpose You never know what you’ll find when you stop by the Innovation Lab for a visit. You might see second graders designing a car to stop at the end of a bench using weights and a ball of string, or a group of ninth graders building electronic circuits or programming arduino boards to control robot arms. The goal is to get students thinking like designers, and tinkering with a purpose.