With the snip of a ribbon held, aptly, by students who helped create the makerspace, Head of School Cathy McGehee and Director of Educational Technology Alex Northrup officially opened The Innovation Lab at Foxcroft School (TIL@FXC) Wednesday evening before an enthusiastic gathering of students, staff, and townspeople.
“The opening of a makerspace at Foxcroft is a crucial component of our strategic plan to strengthen a curriculum and pedagogy specifically for girls,” said McGehee, “One that is intentionally interdisciplinary and that provides real-world learning experiences.
“What makes this space so unique among other schools that have makerspaces is that it was researched, designed, planned, and budgeted for by our own students,” she added.
A year ago Northrup convened the team of students that created TIL@FXC and they immediately took the reigns of the project. “It was a joyful experience for me to see their enthusiasm and creativity,“ he said. “I learned a lot from them. Sometimes I had what I thought was a good idea and it was overruled by the students. That process, like this space, did what we try to do every day — move the students to the center of the learning process. Instead of being passive recipients of knowledge, they are active participants in creating their own learning. They begin to see themselves as makers — confident, confident, and curious citizens who are going to make the world a better place.”
Junior Amara B. and sophomore Kenzie G., two of the students on the “Space to Innovate” team, also spoke, both expressing surprise and delight at how quickly the project moved from idea to reality.
“I thought this would take years,” said Kenzie. “And now, it’s here already and lots of people are using the space every day and creating things. It’s so exciting!”
Those present for the event, which featured Lego candies and student-made souvenirs, included Middleburg Mayor Betsy Davis; Vice President of The Association of Boarding Schools Andy Hirt; members of the Middleburg Professional and Business Association; representatives of Foxcroft partners K2M and Hord Coplan Macht; parents; students; and news reporters.
After the ceremony, the visitors explored the five-room space, observing and talking with girls using the impressive facilities. Some girls were busy making souvenir T-shirts and laser-cut key rings. Others were making jewelry, retouching photographs on large-screen computers, or using the programmable sewing machine to create intricate embroidery. In the Engineering Shop, students showed off the gliders and drones they had made. In the Collaboration Room, summer learning projects from a mathematical analysis of women’s empowerment in four countries to the prototype of a transforming dress being created for the spring production of Cinderella were explained.
And everywhere, the energy and happiness were palpable. “Ultimately,” said McGehee, “we are fostering a culture of creativity and joy, and building skills, confidence, and courage that will prepare our students for success in college and in their professional lives.”
Yes, and letting them have a lot of fun doing it!
-----------------------------------------------------Why an innovation lab? Alex Northrup reflects on the journey and thought process that led to the opening of The Innovation Lab at Foxcroft School in the latest blog post on "It's Academic."