Students at Clairbourn are on an exciting journey of self-discovery and risk-taking made possible by a team of supportive teachers, a kind community, and an inspiring and safe environment. Children learn to discover their abilities in math, science, art, drama, music, and sports thanks to the cultivation of a growth mindset which keeps them motivated and moving forward in the face of setbacks encountered along their learning journey.
STEM activities like those found in Clairbourn’s annual Engineering Design Challenge are a big part of that journey. It is where students learn to believe in their abilities as designers and problem-solvers, and self-identify as engineers. To continue this school-wide activity during the Pandemic, with learning taking place at home, called for some serious re-imagining on the part of the school to make sure students didn’t miss out on this important learning milestone.
In prior years, students used identical batches of materials to build bridges, catapults, vehicles, parachutes, rockets, or other semi-sophisticated devices, and professional engineers were even brought on campus to explain the engineering process and help students improve their builds. To do something similar in the students’ own personal homes was not logistically possible.
But, as famous Chinese-American martial artist and philosopher Bruce Lee said, “Be like water making its way through cracks…adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it.” In the same wise way, Clairbourn’s Engineering Design Challenge was adapted to a new form for 2021. The main adjustment was to minimize the physical outcome and instead to maximize the mental journey of engineering design. Students were asked to design and build pillow forts and focus on the engineering thought process.
For elementary school students, early technology training, a growth mindset, and teamwork skills can help them make the most of opportunities that come later in life. Former Clairbourn School students Nina Luo and Caroline Kwan, from the Class of 2018, exemplify this perfectly. The following article describes their new app, “Dishcovery,” and how Clairbourn School provided early educational advantages that helped them to take on a technology challenge as high-schoolers.
Anytime an interactive tool or device is created, there is a lot to learn and accomplish. Having an ability to think conceptually as well analytically is key to generating the initial idea, the plan, and the steps for development and deployment. When busy high school students Nina Luo and Caroline Kwan set out to create an app for their summer computer class at Coding Minds Academy, they didn’t flinch when faced with the mountain of work involved. They chose to invest their precious free time, both in and outside of class, to make an app that had meaning and value for their everyday life.