Stone Ridge students design and build at the commercial maker space Tech Shop.

Summer at Stone Ridge is a great time to be creative and do your own thing. The summer Stone Ridge/Tech Shop maker class allows students to develop their own design concept and then build the design using state of the art commercial manufacturing equipment. By enrolling as members of a commercial maker-space at Tech Shop in Arlington, VA, students find they have access to the best equipment and resources imaginable.

In small groups, students: 1) define a problem, 2) do background research, 3) brainstorm solutions, 4) design a solution, 5) create a budget, 6) develop and prototype the solution, 7) test the solution, 8) build the solution and 9) communicate the results. Tech Shop houses a variety of technologies used by entrepreneurs (and now SR girls) interested in building self-designed devices. Students take mini-classes to learn how to use machinery such as 3D laser cutters, 3D printers, band saws, circuitry and more. Stone Ridge faculty guide students through an engineering design process.

The class also encourages a large measure of independence and personal responsibility for the success of the project from the student team. “It is surprising to the students not only how much they learn about the engineering/design process but also how much they learn about important life skills such as meeting deadlines, being accountable to a team and persevering in spite of obstacles” says Upper School science teacher Kathleen Flood. “I love observing the students as the project becomes their own; there is a sense of purpose connected to their design solution and the learning and motivation are genuine”.

Does your school do something similar?

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