Third-grader Emily Badenhop loves to spend time with her little brother Bryce, kindergarten, in their backyard treehouse. What makes this play area extra special is the fact that Emily designed it in Country Day’s Lower School Design Lab. In the fall, third graders studied the engineering design process, and their first challenge was to collaboratively design and build a model treehouse, according to Courtney Chambers, Lower School educational technologist.
After reading Everything You Need for a Treehouse by Carter Higgins, students flexed their imagination muscles and got to work planning their own creations. Emily, along with her classmates, iteratively worked through the design process, beginning with needs assessment and determining requirements, and ending up with a 3D cardboard model.
“Right off the bat, Emily mentioned that she had been hoping for her own treehouse at home and that this would be the perfect opportunity to build a model and show her parents her ideas,” remembers Ms. Chambers. “When I learned that her parents were going to help Emily bring this project to life, my teacher’s heart burst with excitement! Knowing that I have encouragement from families to stretch my students to try challenging and inspiring lessons in the classroom means I’m becoming a better teacher every day, which directly impacts the education their children receive.”
The Lower School Design Lab and its emphasis on hands-on, project-based learning activities is just one of many examples of intentional technology at Country Day. In a nutshell, intentional technology means the school takes a thoughtful approach to discovering and implementing tools and tech practices to improve teaching and learning outcomes for our community. We purposely shy away from the bleeding edge of new tools. We are cautious of EdTech fads that emphasize technology for technology’s sake without practical applications in the classroom that create sustainable and meaningful aspects to the educational experience for our students—these not only improve the educational experience today but develop lifelong skills that students will take with them into the future.