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The Innovation Lab: Supporting Innovation, Computer Science and Technology Education

October 19, 2016

Room configuration to include soldering station, 3D printers, work space for STE Since our founding 54 years ago, The Colorado Springs School has sent forth graduates with the skills, knowledge, and, most critically, the attitudes necessary to navigate a rapidly changing world. This is no simple task. As the pace of change increases in undergraduate education, technology, and the world economy, the “stakes” parents face in selecting educational options for their children have never been higher, and the technical and computer science based tools available (or conversely, unavailable) to college students and employees entering the workforce are evolving faster than they ever have before.

At CSS, we want to make sure our students have the opportunity to be producers of technology and computer science and not solely consumers of it. As noted education expert Tony Wagner said in Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era, “With well-designed pedagogy, we can empower kids with critical skills and help them turn passions into decisive life advantages. The role of education is no longer to teach content, but to help our children learn-in a world that rewards the innovative and punishes the formulaic.”

Four years ago and with these trends in mind, former CSS administrator Dr. Cullan Hemenway started the first Technology Lab at CSS, which was dedicated to facilitating student projects in robotics, programming, hardware skills and design processes. This small room (on the second floor of the Trianon) has served our students admirably. With implementation of our new K-12 Computer Science curriculum and growing student interest and commitment to these programs, it is time to expand the physical space and enhance the tradition of student-centered learning in technical fields at CSS.

We recently reconfigured a large classroom (room 208) in The El Pomar Academic Center and launched a newly outfitted and larger Innovation Lab. Running under the direction of Middle School (MS) and Upper School (US) Science teacher and Technology Integrator Mr. Andrew Julian and Technology Coordinator Mr. Joe Thomas, this large and centrally-located makerspace and classroom is dedicated to Middle School and Upper School students, the teaching of our new computer science curricula, and our robotics team. It will also serve as a base for STEM seminars, and ECSs (including this year’s Hacker Space MS seminar and the Space Exploration ECS), and any other individual student project involving technical work. The new Innovation Lab will be set-up within the next two weeks and will include several new tools such as a soldering station and multiple 3D printers that are coupled with current resources, including Arduino Kits and a DJI Phantom Drone, in order to facilitate the opportunities for individual and group creativity. In addition, these resources will further support the Robotics Team as they seek to expand their program within and beyond the yearly competition. Thanks to the generous support of several donors, we will continue to upgrade the capacity of the Lab and the facilities and workstations. Staffing and maintaining the Innovation Lab is just one example of how gala proceeds supporting arts and technology are at work on our campus.

Please reach out to me if you or your employer might have an interest in supporting these upgrades. Alumnus, Ben Firestone ‘08 of X-IO Technologies in Colorado Springs has recently donated a 3D printer capable of creating items up to 20 cm x 20 cm x 20 cm! We also have a 3D printer capable of printing 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm. The donation included some laptop computers, network switches, monitors, and office furniture.

As an added bonus, the new location of the Innovation Lab allows us to create several new learning centers across campus for quiet student study and work with teachers and tutors.

  • In El Pomar, tutors working with Upper School students will now be located directly across from the new Innovation Lab.

  • In Maytag, tutors working with students will now have access to the former robotics room on the Upper Level of the building; housed in close proximity to our Learning Coordinator and Counselors Offices.

  • In the Trianon, tutors who have been working with students on the main level in either the Claremont room or in the Library will now have access to quiet tutor spaces on the second floor near the Middle School English department’s office and classroom.

Please join us at the Innovation Lab’s grand opening celebration, on January 11, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. prior to the evening’s information night dedicated to current/prospective parents to learn more about the Upper School. All parents and students in all grade levels, grandparents, and alumni are welcome to stop by the Innovation Lab open house.

Thank you for all you do for The Colorado Springs School. I look would forward to seeing you soon.

Aaron Schubach
Head of School

Room configuration to include soldering station, 3D printers, work space for STE