Lower Elementary – Middle School
It didn’t work. Hmm, what now? Flexible thinking has been identified as a requisite 21st century skill. In Design Lab, students solve open-ended design challenges and, in the process, extend their learning in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) concepts. Students are introduced to woodworking, robotics, sewing, and use of a 3D printer. The Design Lab curriculum helps students gain confidence in their ability to tackle uncertain and unfamiliar challenges.
The Makerspace at Wellan is open to the entire school community. It is a classroom and a resource for materials, advice, and ideas. The Elementary and Voyager students attend weekly Design Lab classes in this space, and through their work they develop a “maker mindset”— a passion for creating, designing, building, experimenting, and problem-solving. The Stanford Design Thinking Process provides a framework for all work in the Makerspace, and students are encouraged to reframe “failures” as opportunities as they use a variety of tools and materials—from coping saws and sewing machines to upcycled cardboard and TinkerCad software. While maker-centered learning teaches hard skills and gives students important experience connecting mind and body through working with their hands, it also provides opportunity for social-emotional learning. Students experience the value of persistence and collaboration. They engage in thoughtful dialogue, delegate tasks, compromise, and generally become more resilient in the face of challenges and change.