Mark Day School
39 Trellis Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903

Creativity Lab & Maker's Court

Today's students are going to grow up to take jobs that don't exist yet, use tools that haven't been created yet, and solve problems we can't even conceive today. So how do we teach for this ever-changing future? The answer is to focus on the fundamental skills, capabilities, and mindsets that only grow more powerful as the world around us changes: creativity, adaptability, collaboration, and problem-solving.

That's the big idea behind the Creativity Lab - a space for children to create with their hands and minds, test new ideas in real time, and learn to make their way through problems large and small. Students are trained how to safely use all tools and machines.

The new Creativity Lab encompasses four distinct spaces:

  • The Think Tank is where new ideas begin. Students use large-screen displays, whiteboards, and soft seating for brainstorming and critique.
  • The main floor of the Creativity Lab is where experimentation and prototyping happens, using power tools that drop down from the ceiling, bins of popsicle sticks, micro controllers, glue guns, LED lights, and more.
  • The Workshop area is where students take ideas that require tools that are more complex - and more noisy - to bring them to life. The Workshop features a variety of digital fabrication tools as well as some traditional shop tools.
  • The Maker's Court, an enclosed outdoor space where students can build structures bigger than themselves. It will also house a kiln.

Recent Projects

Beginning in kindergarten, students visit the Creativity Lab for classroom projects and personal interest. During Open Tinkering at lunch, students can take what they've learned in class to the next level. Below are some of the classroom and personal projects undertaken in these learning spaces.

1st grade design thinking: Egg Drop Project

Students in 1st grade applied the design thinking process to design and build a contraption that would protect an egg from breaking when dropped from the second story. They were given a set of materials with which to construct, and then tested their creations. If their original design didn't work, they would go back to the drawing board.

4th graders build a stand to raise money for KIVA 

Every year, 4th graders raise money for KIVA, a nonprofit that helps people lend money to low-income entrepreneurs and students, as part of their community engagement. During the 2018-19 school year, they wanted to sell fresh vegetables collected from Mark Day's organic garden. First, they constructed a stand made out of wood that would serve as their venue and would be stationed outside of morning assembly. They worked as a team to design the structure, measure and cut the wood, and drill the pieces together. 

Building a dollhouse out of scrap parts

During Open Tinkering at lunch, Peyton designed a blueprint for her dollhouse, a gift for her cousin, using Adobe Illustrator.  She then found wood recycled from previous projects, using a hot air gun to melt the glue off the used wood. She worked the jigsaw to cut out the windows and doors, the laser cutter to make the stairs, wood glue and screws to put it all together, and 3D printing software Tinkercad to make the furniture.