With just a handful of instructions and much creative freedom, Grade 6 students designed, built and tested their cardboard arcade games as part of their Middle School Design/STEM class. With names like "Marble to the Moon," "Spinny Dropper" and "Buzz Wire," the games fascinated faculty and students alike, who played for small prizes and applause. "Every game had to include three elements: recycled cardboard, LED lights and game instructions," explained Upper School Design/STEM teacher Scott Savett. "After that, they let their imagination go wild." Students worked in small groups and used design thinking to generate ideas, conduct research about arcade games, sketch out designs, and build and test the games.
Meanwhile, Elana Lazar, (Alumna) Middle School Design/STEM department chair, worked with Grade 8 students to develop assistive hand devices as part of their study of biomedical engineering. After researching the needs of persons with motor disabilities, students built prosthetic hands able to pass a usability test: picking up a cup of water. Students named their devices and filmed demo videos highlighting successes and challenges encountered along the way. Mrs. Lazar shared that her students valued the project greatly, and heard them say, "...this is the best thing I ever built." It is through these experiences that students not only develop technical skills, but also become empathetic members of society, able to perceive need and apply knowledge toward solutions.