Welcome to St. Luke’s designLab, one of four pillars under the Center for Leadership. Here problems become projects and challenges are transformed into solutions. Thinkers become makers and along the way, ideas take shape, empowering students to go beyond screens and into real world applications.
A creative problem-solving process, design thinking can be applied to any field of study, any line of business, anywhere an unmet need exists. It’s a mindset and an actionable skill. designLab Director Michael Mitchell trained in design thinking at the Stanford d.school.
The design thinking process starts with empathy. In keeping with St. Luke’s mission and motto, designLab reflects a service-oriented influence captured by designLab’s motto: Make it Better.
designLab is a space—mental and physical—for exploration and experimentation. The 3,500 square foot lab features nine 3D printers, a CO2 laser cutter, small and large CNC routers, and a brand new, fully-stocked woodshop. designLab offers a flexible environment where the physical space adapts to user needs. It comes equipped with plenty of whiteboard space and post-it notes for brainstorming—a critical step in idea generation and problem solving.
In the Upper School, designLab encompasses the Engineering and Computer Science curricula, which include courses such as Foundations of Computer Science, Foundations of Engineering, Mechanical Design, and Data Structures and more advanced, language-specific programming courses.
Mechanical and Electrical Design and are project-based, portfolio courses that shift the variable from time to mastery. A student taking these portfolios earns credit for the course when s/he has successfully completed the portfolio, not simply at the end of the traditional academic semester. This is a first for St. Luke’s—highlighting our belief in the portfolio model's capacity to enhance subject mastery and develop problem-solving skills. designLab enables us to explore this promising option.
In the Middle School (MS), designLab offers a MS designLab elective and works with classroom teachers to enhance current programming with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) connections. During the school year, designLab runs the MS Maker Club as an afternoon activity and in the summer offers MS Maker Camp to the greater SLS community.
An Empathetic Approach to Problem-Solving
designLab builds a critical leadership skill: creative problem solving. Students begin to ask themselves: How can I be creative? They start to see this question as a tool. This solution-seeking mindset permeates the St. Luke's culture. Students and faculty eagerly take on challenges because it's hard fun to figure stuff out.
What kind of challenges? Engineering students designing tools to help teachers convey math and language concepts; teachers designing a new student experience; Middle School students conceiving and prototyping interactive sculpture ideas; students of all ages attending a 48-hour Hackathon; Trustees grappling with education trends and priorities, and on and on...
designLab facilitates a number of iniatives, competitions, and camps throughout the year. Photos below provide a snapshot of the collaboration, creativity and sense of independence fostered by designLab.
St. Luke’s School is a secular private school in New Canaan, CT for grades 5 through 12 serving 25 towns in Connecticut and New York. Our exceptional academics and diverse co-educational community foster students’ intellectual and ethical development and prepare them for top colleges. St. Luke’s Center for Leadership builds the commitment to serve and the confidence to lead.