Saint Thomas Academy Announces new Innovation Center, opening fall of 2017
What is the Saint Thomas Academy Innovation Center?
In order to prepare a more technologically literate workforce we have to give students a chance to innovate. Our new 6,000 square foot center (opening fall of 2017) will take learning outside of a traditional textbook/classroom and engage higher order thinking skills by ideating, evaluating, and fabricating projects.
Important reasons to open an innovation center:
- Students need to stretch themselves outside their textbooks.
- We need to find opportunities for students to fail safely.
- Our brightest students need to get their hands dirty
- Our “hands-on learners” need to see the value of research
What equipment would be included in the lab?
- 3D Printers
- Vinyl Cutters
- Small CNC three-axis mill
- Hand Tools
- Medium CNC table mill
- Drill Press
- Scroll Saw/Band Saw
- 3D Scanner/Measuring Equipment
- Laser Cutter/Engraver
- Computers with Computer Aided Design (CAD) Software
Who would be served by the center?
- Every student will have the opportunity to use the Innovation Center with differing levels of autonomy.
- Direct, structured learning will happen with our younger students.
- Guidance and mentoring will be used with our older students.
- The Innovation Center would start as a “school-day” program and expand to allow for use after school and on weekends.
- Ideally, the Innovation Center would be available to alumni.
What curriculum are you creating and what grades would benefit?
- Our 6th through 8th graders will be exposed to engineering through their science classes. Students will learn about the engineering cycle, fabrication techniques, and safety in the Innovation Center. Use of the Innovation Center tools will help them build a base for later projects and allow them to create projects under careful supervision.
- Our 9th grade Physical Science students will continue using the engineering cycle and the tools of the lab to build projects that directly impact their science learning. Motion, force, energy, and electricity are all topics that will be enhanced by Innovation Lab.
- Our 10th through 12th graders could choose a capstone elective that would require that they ideate, design, build, and test a working prototype with the help of internal and external mentors.
What is the long-term plan for an engineering curriculum at STA?
- Funding and construction of a new science and technology wing.
- Schedule that would allow all students exposure to the engineering curriculum
- Grants/Awards that allow students to invent, innovate, and compete at national engineering, science, and entrepreneurial competitions.
- Prepare more students for best engineering colleges and universities.
Staffing the Innovation Center:
Mr. Mark Westlake, as the Innovation Center Director, will plan curriculum, prepare
resources and materials, maintain equipment, and order supplies as needed to keep
the space functioning. He will be the spokesperson for visitors and alumni interested
in furthering the work of the Innovation Center.
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