Collaborative Design Lab
The Middle School’s Collaborative Design Lab is a creative space where students are challenged to work together to create solutions to different kinds of problems. To accomplish this, students have access to several manufacturing technologies such as 3D printers, a laser cutter, a vinyl cutter, a CNC milling machine, and sewing machines to make their visions come to life.
The CDL can be divided into three parts: Maker Education, Interdisciplinary Collaboration, and Student-Led Projects.
Maker Education: Maker Education allows students to build their own knowledge and develop diverse skills through interactive, open-ended, hands-on projects. All 6th grade students take an Introduction to Making course which guides them through the Design Thinking process while teaching them how to use different aspects of the CDL. Student lessons focus on building empathy with the end user, the importance of the iterative process in prototyping, and the exploration of different industries that use manufacturing technologies. Projects include: prototyping mini-chairs with different materials; designing, making, and marketing a product (3D Modeling, 3D Printing, and Graphics); and building board games (Laser Cutting, Vinyl Cutting, and 3D Printing).
Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Many classes use the CDL to enrich student learning. Collaborations can be on the scale of a single lesson or become more involved, weeklong projects. The science department collaborates with the CDL at every grade level. Projects include: using the laser cutter to make mandala puzzles in the 5th grade; using Spheros (spherical robots) in the 6th grade; and various engineering design projects in the 7th and 8th grades.
Student-Led Projects: Students have access to the CDL during Elective Period. During this time, students work on “passion projects.” These projects range from making personalized gifts for friends and family to creating more artistic pieces. Examples include: laser-cut dominoes, 3D-printed chess board pieces; custom stickers for laptops; and sewn pillows. One student even utilized the tools of the CDL to construct a Halloween-themed escape room for classmates.