News & Views

Making a Maker: Art, Math, Science, Innovation and Imagination Required

Maker culture and curriculum are thriving at Country School this fall. Students in Grades 1 through 9 are diving into increasingly more complex and authentically challenging lessons with enthusiasm, all while practicing skills of collaboration, creativity and higher-order thinking.
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The Country School Maker curriculum combines the best attributes of a STEAM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) curriculum. The on-campus Amicus Makerspace and Design Lab, offers a wide-range of resources including iPad Pro with Apple Pencils, Drones, Programmable  Robots, 3D printers, microcontrollers, fabrication technology and video production, as well as an assortment of recycled materials to spark imaginations. Using their laptops or iPads, students run a variety of age-appropriate programs and apps, such as Kodable, Grasshopper JavaScript, BlockCAD, Tinkercad, Fusion 360, Makerbot, Scratch, Swift, Hummingbird Robotics, Finch Robots, Makey Makey, Micro:bit and litteBits which allow for 3D design and object-based computer programming.

Director of Innovation and Academic Technology Aron Back has taken an interdisciplinary approach with the Maker curriculum for all of his classes, using Maker to extend lessons from other academic areas. For example, in his Upper School Digital Drawing course, the students are using the Procreate drawing app and their interviewing skills to photograph and learn about a faculty or staff member in our community. The students will then do a digital portrait of that community member. In one of his Lower School Maker classes, students will use Scratch Jr. to code digital recreations of the small moments they will write in their homerooms during Writers’ Workshop. These digitally animated stories will then be shared with classmates and teachers. 

“Whether engaging in tinkering, dynamic design and engineering work, or developing their computer programming skills, students are steeped in opportunities to develop their critical thinking and problem solving abilities,” said Mr. Back.

In sixth grade, students meet twice a week to explore gadgetry, simple electronics, basic programming and 3-D printing and today’s specialty: propeller cars.

“There is a lot of room for discovery, creativity and trial and error here. This appeals to all children, but particularly to our Middle Schoolers who have the opportunity to learn from what didn’t work, improve upon it and individualize it,” said Middle and Upper School Technology Teacher Bruce Lemoine.

Children in all grades have many exciting highlights ahead, including the opportunity to incorporate woodworking skills with the help of Woodshop Teacher Chris Lawler, to design “Bristlebots” (mini-robots) in first grade, to use CAD programming to design model replicas of buildings around campus or castles during their Middle School studies of the Renaissance period; learning to fly drones, to programing robots to move and talk in Lower and Middle School, to design and produce digital animation in the Upper School. The depth and breadth of opportunity in the Maker curriculum is too long to list, but be assured the student experience in becoming a Maker is redefining their education for the future.
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New Canaan Country School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin and are afforded all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry, or disability in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, financial aid policies or any other school-administered programs.