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Upper School Engineers Share with Junior Kindergarten Friends

Recently, Upper School students in Engineering I have been hard at work on their final design challenge for this semester, as science teacher Elizabeth Druger and computer science teacher Brianna Ifft challenged these budding engineers to showcase the information they have learned and the skills they have developed in class.

Specifically, Druger and Ifft tasked these students to design a device that incorporates both Arduino, an open-source prototyping tool that allows users to create and program interactive electronic objects, and CAD, Computer-Aided Design software that aids in the 3D design process. The device had to be interactive and use at least two external hardware components, such as a servo motor or an LCD screen, as well as a custom-designed 3D-printed part; furthermore, they had only one week to prototype a design. First, these Upper Schoolers brainstormed with their randomly assigned partners and researched ideas. Next, the students received a $20 budget and had to properly submit supply requests through their teachers. With materials in hand, they divvied up responsibilities and got to work!

However, before the students finalized these products, Druger and Ifft thought it was time to bring in a crack team of consultants. To this end, they invited Tisha Johnson’s Junior Kindergarten class to add their fresh perspectives to the designs. The Upper School engineers jumped at the chance to share their designs with their younger counterparts and embraced the challenge of having to show and explain their projects in a developmentally appropriate manner.

The Upper School Engineering students now have to incorporate an aspect of feedback from the young consultants into their final designs. They will discuss their final plans and designs with Druger and Ifft and get back to work. Finally, Johnson’s JK consultants will return to see the final projects and learn how their feedback influenced the devices.

Parker prides itself on our tight-knit school community with all 14 grades under one roof, and the value of that arrangement truly shines through these types of collaborations. The Upper School engineers had to understand everything about their devices before sharing them in a way the JKers would understand. And, by participating in this Upper School lesson, our youngest students reaffirmed their place in our model home and, hopefully, the project sparked curiosity and love of science in a fun and interactive way they won’t soon forget.

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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.