St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
San Juan Capistrano, California
Founded in 1979, St. Margaret’s Episcopal School is the premier, independent, college-preparatory day school serving 1,245 students in preschool through grade 12. Situated on a picturesque 22-acre campus in San Juan Capistrano, California, St. Margaret’s has dedicated campuses for each school division, modern classrooms and facilities, including a performing arts center, science and technology labs, library, athletics fields and gymnasiums. Our mission is to educate the hearts and minds of young people for lives of learning, leadership and service. Our dedicated teachers and caring parents come together and participate in shared purpose to develop the whole child and educate our students to be productive, healthy and happy children today and moral citizens tomorrow. Head of School William N. Moseley leads a team of experienced and passionate administrators and educators, including principals in each school division. A 21st-century, rigorous and balanced curriculum prepares every student for future success and healthy, productive lives. With more than 1,600 alumni who have matriculated to colleges and universities across the country, St. Margaret’s is a vital member of the community and educational landscape of Southern California providing an environment where students thrive.
Description of Maker Space
St. Margaret’s Episcopal School has 4 maker spaces on campus:
- The Upper School EDGE Innovation Lab is a highly flexible, adaptable space that serves as both a think tank facilitating idea sharing and collaborative project development, as well as a modern-day workshop for messy problem solving and experimentation. It is equipped with a variety of technologies to support design and prototyping. In one corner sits a soldering iron with Arduinos, Raspberry Pi’s and plenty of resistors, capacitors, LEDs, and many other electrical components ready for projects of any skill level. Across from the electronics section sits several 3D printers that are available to take 3D creations from digital to the physical world. Computers, both PC and Mac, are equipped with a plethora of different software that enables creation of 3D models for printing, as well as beautiful 3D renderings, and the ability to create games.
- Supporting Lower and Middle School students, the ICE (Imagine. Create. Engineer) Lab is our technology robotics and engineering space. The space gives students the ability to design and develop interdisciplinary projects using a variety of technology resources, which supports a STEM curriculum focused on technology and engineering with robotics further nurturing learning and interest in software engineering, programming and invention.
- The ICE Maker Studio is an extension of the ICE Lab. It is a space for students to create prototypes and engage in tinkering and exploring activities using supplies and tools, including 3D printers, sewing machines, craft supplies, Little Bits, Arduinos, Raspberry Pi and other additive fabrication tools.
- The Performing Arts Center is equipped with a costume studio used for the design and construction of new costumes. The studio features sewing machines, glue guns, a pattern table and computers and bar code readers. The scenic/prop shop has a work bench, table saw, and a variety of other hand and power tools to build scenic pieces designed on the computer. A 3D printer is used for the creation of props, as well as scale models of some set pieces.
Description of Program
The ICE Lab is a workplace for Lower and Middle School students to unleash their creative and innovative spirit. The space is used to support our technology and engineering curriculum, which utilizes LEGO robotics that nurtures engagement in STEM learning. Through collaborative planning, instruction and implementation with each of the grade levels, students are learning to solve physical challenges with mathematic concepts, programming skills and machines. In grade 2, students build and test simple machines with levers, pulleys, wheels and axels. Grade 3 students build various gear combinations ranging from basic to worm gears and rack and pinions. Grade 4 students build simple machine projects – an example is a “Dogbot,” where students are asked to use a single motor to move multiple parts –making the tail wag, the eyes go up and down, and the mouth open and shut. In grade 5, students use (CAD) software to design a topographic model of one of the 13 original colonies, which is scaled, printed using a 3D printer, and assembled together to create a 3D map.
The ICE Maker Studio is used by Middle School students who design and make a collection of products using the LilyPad Arduino, sewing machines and 3D printers as part of the wearable technology class. This space is also used by Lower School students as part of their science class to make electronic circuits.
The ICE and ICE Maker Studio are at the center of our STEM by Design learning opportunities during the summer. From DaVinci’s Studio to Rockets: The Race to Mars – our students use the spaces to move seamlessly between shiny new tech and old school tools to analyze, design and create. These labs are at the convergence of creativity and critical thinking, intuition and logic, humanities and sciences and it’s where our students get to innovate during the summer with more than a dozen classes.
The EDGE Innovation Lab is used by computer science, engineering, science, and math classes. In the digital creations course, students create a 3D sculpture, print it on the 3D printer, digitize/scan it into the computer, and then animate it. Students also use the space during their free times to explore a variety of technology resources including Arduino’s, Raspberry Pi’s and 3D printers. Students are also able to create 3D prototypes including replicas from 3D scanned data or to program wearable electronics for jackets, shirts and backpacks using GEMMAs, trinkets and Flora.
Examples of How the Space is Being Used
The EDGE Lab is being utilized for many different projects including the creation of a talking 3D printed skull using an Arduino motion sensor, building a custom 3D printer from parts printed from a 3D printer, and building a mechanical robotic hand using parts printed on a 3D printer.
Our Upper School students recently joined the ranks of fashion-forward designers by creating glowing wearable technology that combined fabrics, electronics and programming integrated into various garments the students wore to the annual Glow dance. The conceptual physics students have been learning about the nature of the atomic structure (Bohr Model) and how its geometry and behavior is a function of both its chemistry and physics. Students use software to design their “element,” plan the printing and print the atomic model on the 3D printer. They then use that tactile model to demonstrate the interaction of chemistry and physics to explain why gold is gold and neon is neon.
Lower School students engage in design challenges that require them to collaborate and problem solve using the engineering design process to develop possible solutions. After reading the book A Chair for Mr. Bear, grade 2 students review the problem that Mr. Bear is having and design and construct a chair sturdy enough to sustain Mrs. Bear. Grade 3 students design and create a dwelling for the Indian tribe they are studying. The story Island of the Blue Dolphins has grade 4 students focused on designing a solution to help the young girl on the island get food, provide shelter or retrieve water. In the novel, A Bridge to Terabithia, grade 5 students research and design a model to get over the bridge using the same planning stages that occur in a major construction project.
Students continue to explore technology and engineering in Middle School. Grade 6 students use LEGO Mindstorm EV3’s to build a basic three-motor robot and program a variety of tasks. Students are also introduced to soft fabrication using electronic circuits with LED’s. Every grade 7 student learns the basics of programming by creating a game using the Lua programming language and Codea app on their iPads. Students also create prototypes of their invention or product as part of a year-long, interdisciplinary innovation unit, and persuade a panel of “Shark Tank” members to invest in their product.
Our new Middle School building, scheduled to open in the fall, will have an additional maker space to support the integration of the arts along with the development of the skills of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The space will have technologies that support both the additive and subtractive fabrication process including 3D printers, a laser cutter and CNC router. New course offerings will provide students with the opportunity to learn how to use the digital fabrication equipment and tools to design and create products from concept to fabrication.
The EDGE Innovation Lab will also be expanding to support the subtractive fabrication process and additional courses will be developed to utilize the new technologies.