Engineering and Design Lab
Developed to spark innovative thinking, Greenwich Academy’s Engineering & Design Lab allows students to take ideas from concept to completion, engaging them in the process of building something from the bottom up. Here, principles in engineer, design, and computer science come together and come to life for our girls. They are challenged to solve problems, experiment with new ideas, and learn from their mistakes.
Use of the lab has been integrated into the curriculum of classes of all disciplines, across all divisions as a means to developing the girls’ problem-solving and spatial abilities. Students from the Upper School research seminar can be found using electronics, microcontrollers, and fabrication machines to advance their research. A highlight in the Middle School is an elective where students develop their 2D and 3D understanding through architectural building and drawing, and CAD programming for 3D printing. Lower School girls discover engineering and design principles, and solidify their understanding of the material world through hands on processes like woodworking and mold making.
The lab is equipped with 2D and 3D computer-driven machines that perform their functions through the use of CAD software. The 2D machines include the laser cutter, vinyl cutter, and large format printer. Students seeking to design and output directly into 3D have access to two 3D printers, a milling machine, and the ShopBot, a computer driven router. Girls are taught to use age-appropriate computer applications with these lab machines including 2D vector design programs like iDraw on the iPad for younger girls, Adobe Illustrator for Middle and Upper School, and 3D modeling software like 123D Design and Rhino.
During the school day, the lab is buzzing with the activity of students and teachers working on class projects. After school, the machines are still humming as our robotics teams use the space to build and test their competition robots, often designing and manufacturing custom parts. The lab is also home to our Maker’s Club, a group of students that comes together to “tinker.” Whether they are soldering together a wearable art creation, wiring up an Arduino project, or assembling a Rube Goldberg machine, club members imagine, design and build.
Established in 2008, Greenwich Academy’s robotics program has become a leader in Connecticut robotics education. Through the robotics program, the girls not only learn about engineering and computer programming, but they also gain meaningful experience in teamwork, creative problem-solving, and strategic thinking.
In addition to cultivating a robust program on campus, Greenwich Academy has demonstrated its commitment to the robotics community by creating ROBOnanza, a local robotics expo for students of all ages. Since 2009, ROBOnanza has offered a venue for area teams, students, and schools to showcase their robotic skills and compete in a friendly atmosphere. Since 2012, GA has also hosted annual FIRST Lego League state qualifying tournaments (middle school), and recently hosted its first FIRST Tech Challenge state qualifier for high school students.
To foster learning in a less competitive environment, GA also offers Lower and Middle robotics clubs, where students can learn the basics of design, construction, and programing. Girls in Group III and IV can participate in after school programs open to both beginner and seasoned programmers. The Middle School robotics club offers students in Groups V–VIII the opportunity to build on what they have learned in the Lower School or to start anew. Once the girls are secure in the basic of robotics programming, they are quick to take on more and more challenges. This group participates in ROBOnanza and other local area expos.
Today, both the Middle and Upper School have competitive teams that participate in tournaments through FIRST LEGO League. The Middle School teams have participated in FIRST since 2010. Over the years, these teams have competed in local, state, and world competitions winning many prestigious awards for their hard work and dedication. The Upper School program participates in the FIRST Tech Challenge division, and the students continue to build on their knowledge of engineering and design. This team has been competing at the local, state, and in the northeast region tournaments since 2011, winning various awards for robot design, teamwork, and community outreach.
What is most notable about the girls participating in robotics is their passion for what they are doing—they are driven by their interest in robotics and dedication to their teammates.
For more information contact Robotics Co-Directors Gail Sestito or Doug Rendell at firstname.lastname@example.org.