Exploration of Place: “The Innovation Hub”

The Innovation Hub is a new and unique space in my school that was built about three years ago before the pandemic. The space had not ben used to its full capacity until this year and now, it is the centerpiece of the school’s progressive campaign for experience based learning and problem solving. This room symbolizes design thinking as it provides students with a space to explore the world, identify problems, and design solutions. The design thinking curriculum is still a work in progress, but this year the room was used for a Design for Social Change class where students worked on solving unique issues that they identified. Other than this, the room was used for computer science courses along with interdisciplinary activities that involved hands-on activities. There is an immense potential for this space moving forward as more classes can be designed to use the features of the room. However, having a space in the school that is designated for independent and collaborative work that extends beyond the standard curriculum allows students to expand their academic boundaries in middle school and high school.
This is a 3D printer by MakerBot which is one of the leading 3D printing companies in the industry. Many manufacturers and academic facilities use this device in order to bring 3D ideas to life. While most of the creations were not functional, students had access to a new technology and were excited to be active learners. One of the more interested things built on these machines was an artificial heart valve. This was done as a group to demonstrate the capacity of the device and some very useful use cases. Other than that, the students were able to build and design holiday ornaments, class models of phenomenon, and just anything that interested them! Notice the blue tape which was a trick that had to be used to improve adherence to the build plate. This technology does not always work and can actually e quite frustrating, resulting in a considerable amount of “waste” which can only be recycled properly on the west coast!
Introducing the GlowForge, a laser cutter that can cut, engrave, and etch 2D designs (vector files). Here, you can see the remnants of part of the Eiffel Tower which students were able to cut out and begin to piece together. Other things that have been made on this machine include name tags for desks, bookmarks, mini airplanes (seen in the picture) and, most notably, a street sign used to point to other Ursuline schools around the world! This is another “shiny toy” in the iHub but is not the main component of the space. It can be easy to become distracted by the technology but it must not be forgotten that the room is intended to to promote collaborative problem solving across disciplines.
Here is the other half of this room which is equipped with high ceilings, various seating options, a rolling ViewSonic board, storage for robotics and tools, and arguably most important, a ton of sunlight. I have noticed that students are considerably more awake and engaged when sitting in this room or walking around the rest of the iHub. At times, this can become distracting, but it is incredibly useful to improve the energy and dynamics of a class that perhaps is becoming stale to students. It is an extra bonus if the students can be in that certain room for a purpose.
These are small artifacts that middle school students 3D printed which went along with their Latin and Greek class projects. They had to print out artifacts that could help them to tell a story about ancient times. Students were able to paint these artifacts in the room and display them for others to see. You may also be able to notice a carton of eggs on the right side of the page. This was used for the class egg drop activity with my physics class. In the next picture you will see a little hint at that activity…
As promised, the playing card structure behind the tower was one of the successful egg drop structures. The tower itself has mainly been used for students to build structures casually in the room (particularly younger students). Although, my Physics class did use this to build an “angry birds” tower earlier in the year in order to have some fun learning about projectile motion as well as a little bit of forces (Maybe that was a stretch, but it was pretty fun launching toys at an easily breakable structure). Overall, this space is meant for just trying stuff out and exploring our creative minds. Whether the product be a gift, a doodle, or a solution to a problem, students can enjoy the process and learn to work collaboratively.

4 thoughts on “Exploration of Place: “The Innovation Hub”

  1. Hello Kevin,
    What an amazing workspace! Do you feel this space is what excites the students or that they are actually participating in hands on work?

    I wonder if the students consider a career in technology because of what they are learning in this space.

    Do you feel extra creative when you work in this space?


    1. It really is a unique space. I think the space in itself energizes them because it looks fun and interactive. That in it if itself is a win because it brings some sort of joy to their day. I also think that it extends beyond technology careers. The goal is that we integrate design thinking into their academic framework. 3D printing is cool and all but I think learning the steps to problem solving that go beyond scientific method are important to consider in order to help form well rounded and active members of a community.

    2. I definitely feel a difference. However, I think it is a product of not sitting in standard seats in an old room. No one person feels like a “student” or “teacher” in that room. It is much more conducive for collaboration and makes it seem like I am a part of a team as opposed to a class.

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