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Giving Students the Power to Be Innovative Designers

Participate and share

Participate and share : Poster

Thursday, December 3, 12:00–1:00 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Barri Gertz  
Aaron Griffin  
Emily Heflin  

What does an innovation space look like in a K-8 environment? Learn how one school created programs centered around an innovation space to empower students to be innovative designers. The space is home to 3D printers, a variety of robots, a laser cutter, CNC machine, VR equipment and more!

Audience: Coaches, Library media specialists, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Skill level: Intermediate
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: QR code reader
Topic: Creativity & curation tools
Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: Computer science, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Empowered Learner
  • Students understand the fundamental concepts of technology operations, demonstrate the ability to choose, use and troubleshoot current technologies and are able to transfer their knowledge to explore emerging technologies.
Innovative Designer
  • Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.
Creative Communicator
  • Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

By attending this session, participants will:

- Explore the variety of fabrication tools in our Innovation Space, including: 3D printers, laser cutter, poster printer, CNC machine, hand and power tools, robotics kits, and VR headsets.

- Examine the different types of technology and hardware, and the variety of projects used for each.

- Add to their toolbox ways to add STEAM learning experiences, and authentic problem solving to their lessons and projects.

- Collect ideas for curriculum integration with tools from our Innovation Space.

- See examples of personal innovation projects geared towards a passion or meaningful purpose.

- Identify how design thinking can be utilized to inspire students to be empathetic designers

- Discuss the structure of school programming and open lab hours.

- Learn how using community connections and grant opportunities can support goals for growth.

At The Epstein School, we are on a mission to be on the leading edge of education. We are pushing to build a culture of innovation. Transforming a school’s culture is a complicated process that takes hard work, time, and resources. We began our journey by building a makerspace in the Media Center. For the past five years, the makerspace has been open for students before school, and for teachers to bring their classes for specific projects. Given the popularity of this space with Elementary School students and teachers, we observed a positive problem emerging! We needed to have an outlet for our students to be innovative designers and creators. This “problem” has created an opportunity for our school to expand our maker program with tools and hardware that can be used by our students in upper-Elementary and Middle School. This year we opened the Innovation Space, adding to the momentum the makerspace created. With funds raised from donors and parents, we were able to purchase items for this new space. Currently, we have 3D printers, VR headsets, a Laser Cutter, a Poster Printer, a CNC machine, a Cricut, Set of Makey Makey Kits, Robotics Kits, and hand and power tools. The excitement over this space is steadily growing and is a place we bring students in our technology courses, clubs, and electives. We also have open studio hours for students and teachers to explore and work on projects. Our overall vision for this space is clear. We want to provide an opportunity for students to be excited about learning something new, to persevere, to problem solve, to think critically, and to be innovative designers. While these are the same goals we had when building the Media Center Makerspace, the sophistication of the tools we have in the Innovation Space will provide our community with the ability to create beyond the limitations of the resources in the Media Center. Our poster session will focus on the development of our Innovation Space as well as the types of projects students and teachers can do using the fabrication tools and software.

Poster Session Planned Demonstration:

A display of the fabrication tools in our Innovation Space:(hand and power tools, Oculus Quest VR headsets, HP poster printer, Makey Makey STEM pack, Hummingbird robotics kit, GlowForge laser cutter, Lulzbot Mini 2 3D printers, micro:bits, and Cricut Explore Air 2)

3D printing project examples:

- teacher nametag challenge

- teacher hall pass competition

- students’ Hebrew nameplates for Kindergarten Hebrew Naming Ceremony

- Symbolization project with 5th grade Technology Innovation Learning Time (TILT) students

- 4th grade biography project monuments

- tiny Sukkot for a Jewish holiday

- toy cars with working axles and wheels

- 3D design challenge with 6th/7th grade STEAM elective – using design thinking to create a 3D design for a purpose

Laser cutting project examples:

- 7th grade Language Arts “The Most Dangerous Game” board games

- mazes for robots

- Student designed awards for 6th grade Media Literacy advertising project

Poster printer project examples:

- student-led motivational poster design for the Innovation Space

- Break Into Business (Shark Tank) advertisement posters

- Student created TRIBES Learning Communities posters to include English, Hebrew, and Spanish

- Media Literacy print advertising project with 6th grade Technology Innovation Learning Time students

Oculus Quest VR project examples:

- Design thinking project with 8th grade students to create a 360 VR Video Tour for Admissions

- Use Gravity Sketch to create visual representations in Virtual Reality

- VR experiences to reinforce student learning: Tour of Anne Frank House, ISS Space Station

- Explore places in the Video App to learn about other cities, countries, and landmarks

- Create chain reaction machines using Gadgeteer experience

Cricut Explore Air 2

- Kirigami creations
- Break Into Business (Shark Tank) student company logos

Hummingbird Robotics Kit
- 5th Grade Robot Challenge – use design thinking to invent a robot for someone else

- 5th-8th grade robotics club

Makey Makey

- Makey Makey Club with 5th-8th grade

- 7th grade coding class designed games using Scratch and Tynker and built controllers using Makey Makey

- 1st grade students used Makey Makey to learn about music notes and circuits

- 6th grade ancient history interactive museum

- 5th grade branches of government interactive posters

Supporting research

"Strategies for Teaching Creative and Critical Thinking in Your Classroom", Carla Brigandi

Ethical Creativity Institute at Brandeis School

The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros

iPBL Workshop at Mandel Jewish Day School

Stanford d School, Design Thinking

More [+]


Aaron Griffin, The Epstein School
Emily Heflin, The Epstein School

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