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

Innovation Lab

Design, Build, Learn!

 
The Fay School Innovation Lab is a 3,000 square foot lab space open to Fay faculty, staff, and students from K through ninth grade, with dedicated spaces for video production, programming, designing, building, and tinkering.
 
We want to introduce students to the world of invention, design, and creative problem solving, and we believe that essential learning goes beyond books and theoretical “what if’s”.  When students design build, iterate, and revise their creations, they participate in real-world applications of engineering and design principles. Along the way, they learn important life lessons about creativity, grit, failure, and success.

Students in the Innovation Lab learn about design as a process: identifying a problem and the target market, generating design specs, building and testing prototypes, and ultimately creating a finished product that is useful, functional, beautiful, and sustainable. Over the course of their time at Fay, students create projects that incorporate a range of graphic medium and materials, including CAD / CAM, electronics, robotic control, wood, metal, plastic, paper and textiles.

You never know what you’ll find when you stop by the Innovation Lab for a visit. You might see a class of second graders designing a car to stop at the end of a table using weights and a ball of string. Or a group of ninth graders building mono speakers or programming robot arms to move bales of hay from one basket to another. The goal is to get students thinking like designers, and tinkering with a purpose. 
 
 
“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

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. 
     

Case Study: LED Flashlight

In the spring, eighth graders in Creators’ Class are challenged to design and make a flashlight that is sustainable, ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing. While the task may appear straightforward, it offers students the opportunity to apply a wide range of skills and knowledge from CAD and CAM, to understanding the purpose of electronic components. Building a flashlight that is functional and useful are big factors too for success—not to mention designing an eye-catching flashlight that a customer would want to buy!
 

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:

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

WINTER
- 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.  

SPRING
- 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.