Fay Latin teacher Emily Gifford was looking for a creative way to help her seventh, eighth, and ninth grade students learn about ancient Roman currency. Her solution: have students cast ancient coins using 21st-century methods!
After researching Roman currency, students designed their own coins to include a Latin epigram and a representation of Roman art. Then, it was off to Fay’s new Innovation Lab, where Fay’s Director of Innovation helped the students use a vector graphics editor to convert their drawings to digital files. Then they used a digital laser cutter to transform flat pieces of wood into beautifully rendered coins with raised lettering and images.
Fay’s iLab is an exciting new resource that serves as TV studio, woodshop, web design workshop, science lab, and art studio. It was the brainchild of a team of Fay teachers who repurposed three underutilized classrooms using only materials that were already available on campus. They moved out desks and chairs and moved in couches and worktables. They attached wheels to furniture and brought in a computer and projector on a cart. They painted walls and tabletops with whiteboard paint to maximize writeable spaces for brainstorming, and they painted one wall bright green for video projects using green screen technology. Grants made possible a laser cutter and other “maker” tools.
The final result: a “Design” room for brainstorming and collaboration, and a “Create” room for building and construction—a perfect place to help Fay students practice design thinking, which is a solution-oriented approach to problem-solving. Students follow a series of steps to identify and understand problems, and then they quickly generate and test solutions.
The benefits in learning to think like a designer? Students participate in real-world, meaningful experiences where they learn to collaborate with others, generate solutions to problems independently, and demonstrate ingenuity and resilience in the face of challenges.