What are the
Eight Core Abilities
of Design Thinking?
These foundational concepts come from the d.school at Stanford University:
Learn from Others (People and Contexts)
Move Between Concrete and Abstract
Build and Craft Intentionally
Design Your Design Work
Design Lab (Technology)
An elementary school technology class experience is an exciting and educational journey that equips young students with essential digital literacy skills while fostering creativity and problem-solving abilities. In these classes, students are introduced to various technological tools and concepts that are relevant in our increasingly digital world.
But for us, it's more than that.
Here are the Nine Strands of Technology we chase in the Design Lab on a daily basis:
Understand the difference between analog and digital technology
Analyze technical problems and develop solutions
Become good stewards of our devices
Design with 2D and 3D design tools and output using digital fabrication
Understand electronics and coding
Create machines using fabrication and electronics
Understand and apply the Eight Core Abilities of Design Thinking (See Below.)
Organize and communicate technical work
Show good habits of work and learning.
Students learn the fundamentals of using computers, navigating software applications, and understanding basic coding principles. This foundational knowledge empowers them to explore the digital landscape with confidence and competence.
During technology class, students often engage in hands-on activities that promote creativity and critical thinking.
They might undertake projects such as creating multimedia presentations, designing simple websites, or coding basic computer programs.
These activities encourage students to think creatively, plan logically, and troubleshoot technical challenges.
They also learn about responsible digital citizenship, including topics like online safety, ethical use of technology, and the importance of respecting others' digital work and privacy.
We also incorporate Social-Emotional Learning into the Lab. When people care about their work and it doesn't go well, they have strong, honest feelings that bubble over into actions that might not always be appropriate. We help students process through the emotional part of making and tinkering.
Some of our projects are similar to what you might find in just about any classroom. We teach students how to use their device and have a number of technical challenges using LEGO parts and 3D printers.
But we also do some projects which are quite unique. (When we have a free minute, we'll tell you more about them!)
Basically, we're always up to something. So if you're in the neighborhood, stop by and see us!
Some of our Tools
The Design Lab has a number of analog and digital fabrication tools. This includes: 3D printers, a laser cutter, LEGO stuff (both modeling and robotic), online tools like Tinkercad, electronics (components, breadboards, Arduinos, soldering irons, etc.), robots (LEGO, Sphero, etc.), a Cricut for vinyl signage, and more.
What It Means to Work in the Design Lab
Working in the Design Lab means being part of a community of experiential learners. One day, a student accidentally tipped over a large box of LEGO parts. They went all over the place! The rest of the class didn't hesitate for a second - everyone got down and started picking stuff up. We're all in this together!
It's All About Flexibility
In the Design Lab, just about everything is on wheels. This allows us to configure the space specifically for the project and the class coming into the Lab.
Fire Fest Challenge
Students in grades 6-8 participate in the Fire Fest Challenge over the winter. This unit starts with an understanding of electrical circuits and moves on to basic electronics. It culminates shortly before the February Break with a coding assignment - to make two lights flicker in a way that looks like fire.