The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA

Creativity and Design Program

Learning on the Leading Edge

Fay’s Creativity and Design curriculum challenges students to employ a powerful approach known as design thinking as they delve into hands-on projects that foster creativity and deepen understanding across subject areas.

Originally developed at Stanford University’s (the Institute of Design), design thinking offers an empathy-based, solution-oriented approach to solving problems. The process focuses on identifying and understanding the problem, generating and testing solutions, soliciting feedback, and making revisions, in a constant cycle of improvement.

The skills involved in thinking like a designer complement the enduring skills that are part of Fay’s traditional curriculum. Students learn to collaborate with others, think creatively as they generate solutions to problems, and face challenges with ingenuity and resilience.

Read More: Why Is Creative Problem Solving the Most Important Skill?

Everyone is a designer.

Fay’s Creativity and Design program spans Kindergarten through Grade 9, with a curriculum that builds creative problem-solving skills. In Primary and Lower School, Creativity and Design projects are integrated across the disciplines. In Upper School, the Creativity and Design program is formalized as a series of stand-alone classes:
Creators Class   In this required course for grades 7 and 8, students learn to design with CAD/CAM systems, explore basic electronics and programming of circuit boards, and do digital fabrication with laser cutters, vinyl cutters, and 3D printing technologies.
Advanced 3D Design   This ninth-grade elective is considered a full academic course and is graded on the same scale as the core courses of math, English, science, history, and world languages. Through a series of design challenges, students learn to identify a problem and the target market, generate design specs, and build and test prototypes.Instead of textbooks, students each have their own toolboxes!

Read More: Build With Me: Creativity & Design in the Primary School

Real-world partnerships.

Each year, our student designers enrolled in our Advanced 3D Design class engage in real-world design projects in partnership with experts at local and national companies. Students are presented with design briefs; then, in collaboration with their mentors, they generate design solutions and make formal presentations. Recent project partners have included Converse, Bose, Mazda, Barnes & Noble, FatFace, and the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Read more:
Designed to Impress: Partnerships with Mazda and Bose
Fit For a Kid: Barnes & Noble Challenge

Creativity & Design - Program Highlights

Beebots   Can you problem-solve in more than one language? Our Kindergarteners can! Fay students in Kindergarten through grade two study French and Spanish, each for half of the year. Kindergarteners practice French numbers and direction words (forward, back, left, right) by programming Beebots (small robots shaped like bees) to traverse a maze. Watch >>
Statistical Servants  Service learning meets creativity and design in this Pre-Algebra project, where seventh graders focus on a specific aspect of poverty, such as homelessness or food insecurity, and then tie data and statistics to an actionable proposal. One recent proposal led to a canned food drive, with the donations going to a local food bank. Read more >>
Pentominoes  Fourth graders use pentominoes—sets of twelve polygon pieces each composed of five equal-sized squares—to explore congruence and spatial relationships, two essential underpinnings of geometry. Students design their own pentomino puzzles using 2D design software and create their puzzles in the Innovation Lab. Read more >>
Sunglasses & Sound  Ninth graders in Advanced 3D Design partnered with Bose on a project to design sunglasses with built-in speakers. Students worked closely with their Bose mentors to articulate their designs and then made formal presentations back at Bose headquarters. Read more >>
Earthquake-Proof  This science project, which complements the sixth graders’ study of Earth’s structures, challenges students to explore the causes and results of earthquakes. Students design and build balsa-wood towers, test their stability on an earthquake table, and improve their designs.
Wacky Racers  In this hands-on exploration of Newtonian mechanics, second graders use shoeboxes, string, wheels, weights, and a host of everyday supplies to design and build cars that can roll up a ramp without going over the edge. Read more >>
Clock Design  Fay third graders use 2D design software to design analog clocks, cut them on the laser cutter, and fit them with hands and motors. The clock themes run the gamut, from a Superbowl clock, to an asteroid hurtling toward earth and even a clock shaped like a chicken! These essential tools help students build number sense and practice computation strategies as they solve time problems. Read more >>
Urban Design  In Diagnosing the Modern World, ninth graders take on the challenge of redesigning a major urban system—such as transportation or waste management—for a world city. After in-depth research, students create a visual representation of their solution to the problem. Final presentations range from cardboard structures created in the Innovation Lab to virtual structures in Minecraft. Read more >>
The Perfect Chair  In a partnership project with Barnes & Noble, students in Advanced 3D Design designed and built comfortable cardboard chairs for some extremely challenging clients—Fay’s own first graders! Ninth graders interviewed students to learn about desired design features and then improved their prototypes based on client feedback. Read more >>

The Innovation Lab

Many of our creativity and design projects take place in Fay’s Innovation Lab, a 3,700 square-foot lab space with dedicated rooms for design, fabrication, and tinkering. During their time at Fay, students create projects that incorporate a range of graphic media and materials, including CAD/CAM, electronics, robotic control, wood, metal, plastic, paper, and textiles. The facilities are open to all teachers for enhancing project-based learning in the classroom.

What's in the Innovation Lab?

List of 4 items.

  • A design room

    for brainstorming and collaboration where students are inspired to think and work like professional designers, responding to real world design briefs. The space is set up with individual workstations conducive to creativity and the design process. The space also features a full “green screen” wall for video production.
  • A maker space

    for building and prototyping ideas using a range of modeling materials. This room is also generously equipped for assembling and testing electronic circuits.
  • A "fab lab"

    that includes machinery for 21st century fabrication. Desktop computers equipped with the latest design software are connected to 3D Printers, including additive and resin, a CNC milling machine for cutting and shaping metal, a CNC router for cutting flat wooden boards, a large industrial-standard laser for cutting plastic and wood, CNC vinyl cutters for signs and transfers and two 3D imagers.
  • A tinker space

    dedicated to project work for students across all disciplines and grade levels, where students have access to a range of hand tools and equipment, including a press drill, disc and belt sander, scroll saw, vacuum former, plastic heat bender, and bandsaw. 
“I love working in the Innovation Lab—it has been one of my most valuable experiences at Fay. I enjoy sharing my passion for design with others, and I’ve learned that it’s not about coming up with one great design. I should generate as many ideas as I can.” – seventh grader

Club Opportunities

There are plenty of opportunities for students to get involved in club activities in our Innovation Lab! Here's a sampling of what we offered this year:

- Coding (Lower School)
- Tinker Club (Upper School)Students develop making skills using a variety of tools and machines to design and make useful objects.  

- Coding Club (Upper School)
- Creativity Design Club (Upper School)  Students work on coding skills in HTML, Javascript, and other languages. No previous knowledge required.
- 3D Design CAD/CAM (Upper School) Students learn how to use Blender, 123 Design, and TinkerCad then make what they have designed using 3D printers, a laser cutter and vinyl plotter.
- Tinker Club (Upper School)  Students develop making skills using a variety of tools and machines to design and make useful objects.  

- Electronics Club (Lower School)
- Fashion Accessories Club (Upper School) - Design collaborative in partenership with Savannah College of Art & Design and retail fashion chain Fat Face
- Tinker Club (Upper School)  Students develop making skills using a variety of tools and machines to design and make useful objects. 

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