The Imaginarium will allow students to solve problems using creative design
Robotics kits, hand tools, a 3D printer, a sewing machine, a media center complete with a special-effects "green screen." When you walk into Almaden Country Day School's brand new maker's lab on its campus in South San Jose, the emphasis is immediately clear: creativity.
"Children have a natural affinity for making things," said Mary Beth Gay, the school's Director of Technology. "The launch of our maker's lab is a natural extension of strong student interest in the design process, as well as the school's overall focus on problem-solving, hands-on learning, collaboration, and, yes—making."
The idea for an expanded maker's lab arose out of the popularity of Mrs. Gay's current course "Calling All Makers," which for the past three years has been one of the most in-demand middle school electives offered at ACDS. As the number of interested students has grown, so has the need for additional space and dedicated resources. The new maker's lab will allow the expansion of existing project-based learning initiatives, as well as extend access to the elementary grades, for which "the art of making" is an important focus.
Called the Imaginarium, the ACDS maker's lab will encourage students to use a "maker's mindset" to solve problems in innovative ways, enabling them to prototype, test, revise, and retest in search of the most viable solutions. In addition to a range of modern devices, the lab will be equipped with a floor-to-ceiling white board for drafting ideas, sample project kits, a prototyping station, and a variety of traditional hand tools, all of which can be used under adult supervision after completing a standard safety test.
"Education has been moving away from rote memorization as the primary focus," said Mrs. Gay. "Our goal is to actively embrace educational practices that encourage learners to critically evaluate needs, use available resources, consider parameters and obstacles, and formulate new ideas. We've found that these practices reinforce literacy, mathematics, science, and social studies in a more authentic context than might exist in a traditional classroom environment."
The Imaginarium will be open two days per week during lunchtime for students who have reserved space to work on individual projects. Classes will visit the Imaginarium for three-week cycles to work on class-developed projects. At least one Family Saturday and one Family Evening are scheduled as well, allowing ACDS families to join in the excitement.
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