Innovation in Lower School
Makerspace: STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Mathematics) education serves as an opportunity for Lower School students to integrate knowledge and skills across content areas through project-based learning. Makerspace aims to help students become the informed technology users of today and the responsible, creative, critical innovators of tomorrow. Throughout the year, students explore various tools and methods for innovation, including upcycling, programming, digital design, circuitry, and 3D printing. Some of the digital tools utilized in Makerspace include: Book Creator, Hopscotch, Scratch & Scratch Jr., Drawing Pad, FlipaClip, CoSpaces, Tinkercad, and Blockly. Each Makerspace class is full of creative expression, experimentation, exploration, and hands-on fun.
Upcycled Simple Machines: As a playful entry point to engineering concepts, Lower School makers start the year building Rube Goldberg machines with everyday materials like cardboard tubes, dominos, straws, corks, and other recyclables. This project is not only an introduction to simple machines like inclined planes, pulleys, wheels and axles, and levers, but it is also an opportunity for imaginative play.
Intro to Programming and Dash Robots: Lower School makers explore programming fundamentals with the Blockly app, a block coding platform that pairs with our programmable Dash Robots. Students experience computational concepts like sequencing, loops, events, and conditionals firsthand while programming their robots to perform creative song and dance routines, interact with their environment, and solve mazes with precision.
Illuminated Gratitude Lanterns: Each December, AIM Academy hosts its annual Illuminated Lantern Festival, a cross-divisional celebration of creativity and technical skills during the winter season. In 2022, Lower School makers planned, constructed, and improved upon their own illuminated lantern designs that represented something they were grateful for, later displaying them proudly at the festival.
Katherine (Kate) Gregory, Lower School Makerspace
Kate is passionate about combining tinkering and education. With an undergraduate background in studio art, Kate specializes in Maker Education with a degree in Learning Sciences & Technologies from Penn GSE. She’s thrilled to bring her research background on blending crafting, coding, and creativity for STEAM learning into the classroom at AIM Academy.