LS Students Try Emerging Technologies at Innovation Lab @Ross

dsc_8347 Ross Lower School students in the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades visited the Upper School last week to explore Innovation Lab @Ross. The purpose of the visit, according to Director of Innovation Lab Dr. Greg Wilson, was to introduce to students some of the program’s emerging technologies and marine science projects and to the students who use them.

The younger students began by speaking to current Innovation Lab students, who described how the program has helped them to explore their interests. Sophomore Brandon Hecht, for example, showed the group his experiments with aquaculture methods to raise fish in small spaces, like urban environments. He is currently raising blue, red, and white tilapia and channel catfish; eventually, he’d like to expand the project to include plants. Junior Mendi Reed demonstrated the lab’s 3D printers, which she is using to produce a model of a hammerhead shark’s skull.

In the lab, the LS students visited four stations to experience the breadth of resources available in the Innovation Lab. At the littleBits table, students worked with kits that acquainted them with electronic circuitry and engineering using color-coded components. The students enjoyed making their own functional creations.

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At the virtual reality station, they explored a variety of scenes using both the Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard, a simple and affordable tool that can turn any mobile phone into a virtual reality viewer. At the Arduino station, students played with robots as an introduction to one of the coding languages Innovation Lab students have used to animate projects such as a prosthetic hand and robotic vehicles.

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Finally, students participated in the Marshmallow Challenge, a design thinking activity in which groups compete to see who can create the tallest freestanding structure using only 20 strands of uncooked spaghetti, one yard of string, and one yard of masking tape to support a marshmallow.

“I hope this visit made the Lower School students excited about Innovation Lab and what it has to offer,” said Greg. “I want them to begin to think about how these technologies will affect their lives in the future and also how science and technology can be used to solve real-world problems.” He further explained that the Innovation Lab curriculum is being restructured so that students will have more time to work on independent projects and learn the mind-sets and skills needed to solve society’s toughest problems.

Middle School students will also be participating in an Innovation Lab showcase this week.