Weekly Wrap-up: Why Design Studio?

It became apparent early on in the planning of Innovation Lab that we needed to make the conscious decision to add an elective to the four core classes that would make up the program. We acknowledged that the projects we were designing and the twists and turns students would inevitably add to them incorporated a set of skills that are always evolving. When we give students a grade for a course, there’s an expectation that the grade incorporates similar skills and concepts to the same course being run by another teacher. To use math as an example, it’s one thing to cover quadratics differently from class to class, but it’s another thing to give scores for engineering in an Algebra 2 class.

So what are the extras that set us apart from the core curriculum? Students will be reaching out to a community member or an expert in the field and maintaining that relationship takes professionalism and time. It’s important that students participate in design and build challenges that foster teamwork and involve hand and power tools. There’s reflection layered into everything we do and public exhibition of work is paramount. These skills might exist as a one-off in some classes now, but as a collective, they add up to more than what should be expected of the four credits from the four core classes. Our solution was a fifth course, called Innovation Lab Design Studio, an Applied Arts course which encompasses parts of many courses already in the category and others that are not currently offered.

We made strides this week in getting more specific with what will go into the Design Studio grade. Humanities have a great Genius Hour planned where students can explore their own passions and flesh out their ideas. Layered into it is a slew of skills from tips on interviewing to researching professional articles related to their passion to giving a Ted talk on their idea. STEM Design Studio incorporates 3D modeling and printing, designing a website for a project, or tinkering and engineering a product. Design Studio is the glue that holds the four subjects together without sacrificing the academic rigor people expect from our courses. And doesn’t it sound like a lot of fun?

– Brian & Sarah

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