in the lab

Our Open Lab has been a special part of our campus and curriculum since 2013. Home to tinkering activities during class, lunch, and after school, the Open Lab is a place where students can build and explore. We are looking forward to our new, expanded Creativity Lab opening mid-fall 2017.

Featured Project: 1st Grade Bubble Wands

The bubble wand project has been in effect for a few years to enhance a 1st grade science lesson about the states of matter. Tinkerer-in-Residence David St. Martin works in conjunction with 1st grade teachers to introduce younger students to the process of iteration.

After looking at different forms of bubble wands and materials, 1st grade students imagine creating their own bubble wands. During this fantasizing stage, students learn to identify their own needs as bubble wand users and imagine the problem in need of a solution.

During the design stage, students have to rethink their imaginative bubble wands to fit realistic parameters. Considering the materials available, students address the project's driving question: "How will I create a bubble wand to make X?"

Together, students brainstorm ideas about other materials they could use to create a bubble wand. They also determine if they want a wand that produces big or small bubbles, sketch out their new bubble wand ideas, and explain why they chose that design.

With a little help from Mr. St. Martin, students create prototypes using materials such as electric drills, saws, vices, and glue guns. They start simple, visiting various stations with different materials.

When their prototypes are ready, students head straight outside to test them. They then complete a recording sheet indicating how their first wand worked and identify changes that need to be made. Students continue the iteration process until they have a functional bubble wand they are satisfied with.

Featured Project: Building Solar Machines

After studying sustainable power sources such as wind, solar energy, and biofuel, 5th grade students gathered in the lab to learn about the concept of work as it pertains to physical engineering. They were given a challenge--to build a motorized machine powered by solar cells. First, they worked in pairs to brainstorm ideas and prototype small models, deciding between a series or parallel circuit for their respective machines. Using cardboard, wood, and other crafting materials, students designed their machines. When students had working machines, they presented in front of peers and faculty. Examples of machines included a book page turner, a seed planting system, massagers, and cars.

Featured Project: Making Anenometers

After learning about wind pressure and flow, 2nd graders are given a base and a variety of materials such as dixie cups cut in half, streamers, and tape, with which to design a contraption they believe will move wind in a tunnel. After initial testing and observation, students head back to the drawing board and make adjustments until their wind mills successfully move in the wind tunnel.