Design & Collaboration Lab
Design thinking and creative problem-solving are evident in abundance across St. Patrick’s educational program.
The Design & Collaboration Labs, one for students and one for teachers, support the development of a culture of creativity, collaboration, and innovation. The labs expand valuable learning opportunities for students and teachers and remove hurdles to engaging in even more such projects. A wide-open, intentional space for design challenges fits the way elementary-age children typically address these types of projects. To create, they spread out their materials and array themselves across a table or on the floor. Additional storage space allows for a broad range of materials to be at the ready, giving all students easy access to the appropriate materials to manipulate, build, and create. Teachers more fluidly follow student interests and build upon their understanding to move to the next concept or related theme.
The designated spaces refocus community energy and shift students to a frame of mind conducive to creative work. Crossing the threshold of the Design & Collaboration Lab allows the student to focus on appropriate risk-taking and testing and iterating approaches that result in successful problem-solving. Students collaborate according to skill sets or preferences towards a common goal. As a team, one student may design the component circuit board while another constructs the overall assembly to complete a project or solve a problem. One teacher observes, “Teachers are excited to see students shine in different ways as they work thoughtfully with partners and grow ideas together, turning them into physical designs. Students build skills in planning, labeling, and constructing.” Students are empowered to innovate and gain confidence in their abilities and are given the opportunity to appreciate the gifts and talents others bring to the table.The Design & Collaboration Labs are configured to grow with the program and expand to embrace robotics, circuitry, and programming.
A nearby space, the Design Shop, accommodates woodworking, power tools, sewing machines, and other resources for student innovation. Science teacher Will Cook, is excited by the possibilities for students to engage in “mixed-age, unconventional, combinatory thinking.” Students learn empathy as they recognize that their peers have strengths that they may or may not share. Understanding and valuing what each student brings to the group strengthens the bond between and among students.