French Consul Pauline Carmona enjoys a student demonstration on a visit to the new Upper School Design Lab.
OPPOSITE: Students display their inventions at the first annual
Design Faire. RIGHT: Learning to use a soldering iron.
he Upper School Design Lab at 150 Oak Street
opened its doors last fall, placing a variety of
tools—like a 3D printer and a laser cutter—at
the fingertips of our Upper School students. As
is the case with all of our campus enhance-
ments, we use those spaces and the tools they
house to further our pedagogical strategy. It’s
never about the objects, but about the thinking, and in
this case, design thinking. So what is it?
Design thinking is a method that aims to provide solutions to problems by combining creative and analytical
approaches and by fostering collaboration across disciplines. Designers must empathize with those for whom
they design, and go through multiple iterations of a possible solution to gain insights and refine it.
This past year, French American laid the foundation for
a design tech curriculum, thanks to a visual arts class in
the Middle School and 9th- and 10th-grade electives in
the High School. With tentacles in the Design Lab and its
Lower School cousin, the Tinker Space, design thinking
aims to foster creative, iterative, collaborative problem-solving across disciplines. Following are snapshots of this
year’s activities, including our schoolwide Design Faire on
April 17. As we go into the 2015-16 academic year, the
school is poised to expand our efforts schoolwide.