Head of School Mar 1, 2024
Dear Seven Hills Families,
As I was walking through the Middle School last week, I overheard several sixth graders talking excitedly about a “wind tunnel race.” When I dropped by the Innovation Lab, students were putting the finishing touches on their “gravity racing cars.” Each student had received a basic kit of parts, including a block of insulation foam and plastic wheels. Their task was to design and build a gravity-powered racing car within established size and weight parameters, though several students opted for creative modifications using additional materials. They then tested their car’s performance by measuring the distance traveled along an angled ramp and by assessing aerodynamic efficiency in a wind tunnel test. The exercise is a great introduction to the engineering concepts of criteria and constraints. In subsequent units, the sixth graders will create, test, and modify foam board gliders to learn more about aeronautical engineering.
These projects are a part of the school’s overall commitment to introducing students to design thinking, an iterative process that project teams use to understand the needs of product users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems, and create innovative solutions to prototype and test. At its best, design involves five phases: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test.
So, in the school’s four makerspaces, students at all levels have opportunities to develop design thinking skills. In an extended seventh grade project, for example, students are asked to identify a problem that affects other people and then to design, build, and test a series of prototypes of a solution to that problem. Recent projects have ranged from creating a cookie that is both free from major allergens and a good source of protein, to cosmetics packaging made from environmentally friendly materials, to a net designed to catch any type of sports equipment.
At the intersection of empathy and creativity, these creative projects not only help our students learn design and engineering skills, but they help them feel the joy of devoting their talents to the service of others.
Christopher P. Garten
Head of School
Key Dates & Events
Wednesday, March 6 — Parent Community Board Meeting, 8:30 a.m.
Saturday, March 9 — LGBTQIA+ Family Social, 12-2 p.m.
Sunday, March 10 — Daylight Saving Time Begins. Move clocks ahead one hour.
Wednesday, March 13 — Board of Trustees Meeting, 6:30 p.m.
Friday, March 15 — Spring Break Begins at 3:15 p.m.
Monday, March 18-Friday, March 29 — Spring Break. No School.
Monday, April 1 — School Resumes