By Assistant Head of School for Design & Innovation Matt Abbondanzio
Year one of the design and innovation curriculum at LJCDS, which launched in September 2015, was an exciting one, serving more than 25 percent of the student population. This year, we’re growing and hoping to make an impact on a larger percentage of our student body.
Reflecting on the first year, students in the design and innovation courses accomplished a number of successful achievements that had an impact in five countries over three continents. Middle School students learned about human-computer interactions and created inventions such as a new way to play chess with a Rubik’s Cube. The Upper School classes built a laser cutter, completed innovation work around “team hydration” for CamelBak, and developed solutions to problems around the home. All of our students performed ethnographic research to uncover novel insights from which they developed unique problem statements and amazing solutions. Some of these solutions include:
the Hydrone, a drone-powered watering system leveraging the precious short minutes that players on the football field between plays to maintain proper hydration levels;
a pressurized water bottle filler that addresses the observation that coaches were spending close to 45 minutes per game filling water bottles. Their system fills a water bottle in under 6 seconds;
and an app called NoiseU that is a novel way to address the ignored issue of excess residential noise (think a Waze like app for noise).
This year, we are primed and ready for an even better year. With the inclusion of computer science and library science into the design and innovation department, we now have a team of 10 who are poised to provide an even larger number of students the experience of innovation.
In Lower School, Andrea Flagiello is teaching Grades 1-4 text-based computer science, digital and analog circuitry, the design process and more.
In Middle School, Todd Mitchell is teaching every fifth grader digital literacy skills such as Excel, collaboration with Google Apps and more to be successful here at LJCDS and beyond.
In addition, Jeremy Bank is teaching every sixth grader an introduction to computer science along with robotics.
We also welcome Darren Cameron as Upper School computer science teacher. Mr. Cameron is teaching introduction, AP and elective-level computer science courses—one of which is a collaboration with visual arts teacher Cindy Bravo in an art and technology course. Together, Mr. Cameron, Mr. Banks and Ms. Flagiello are also developing a high level curriculum map for computer science that will allow our students to differentiate themselves.
This year, Dan Lenzen is back preparing our Upper School students for an amazing year in two courses, Design Thinking to Open Entrepreneurship and Innovation Technology. Students will once again work in the real world with companies including Ottobock, a German based prosthetics development company.
I am so excited about what this year promises for LJCDS and our students. We hope everyone can be involved as we enhance and expand our facilities.