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Sixth Grade designLab Class Creates Gifts for Nonprofit Holiday Boutique

By: Kimberly Gerardi, Middle School designLab Chair
Each December, St. Luke’s Center for Leadership hosts its Nonprofit Holiday Boutique. In this annual pop-up shop event, student-led clubs, local organizations, and St. Luke’s parents sell gift items, with the proceeds benefiting local nonprofits. The sixth grade participated in the boutique, with 22 student groups selling items to help 11 organizations.

Selling gift items at this year’s boutique provided the perfect opportunity for students to implement their classroom learning from their designLab class, which included a unit called Young Entrepreneurs. Students arranged themselves into groups based on their passions for specific causes, such as animal welfare, the environment, and medical conditions. From there, the students used the engineering design process to understand their causes better and create their designs. 

Students were asked to create concepts for their merchandise and were then shown how to design and build a proof of concept with the 3D printer and laser cutter by designLab teachers. Once their ideas were viable, we mass-produced a large quantity of the products. The students finished the assembly and detail work on their merchandise, including making gift tags and table signage. Gift items at the boutique included magnets, jewelry, coasters, keychains, and original wearable art.

After the Holiday Boutique, we met with students to discuss how they used the engineering design process to build their items and what they would do differently with future projects. We also discussed how they felt about their products, raising money for good causes, and their sales results.

This year’s Nonprofit Holiday Boutique raised more than $2,000; almost half of the vendors were St. Luke’s sixth-grade students.
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St. Luke’s School is a secular (non-religious), private school in New Canaan, CT for grades 5 through 12 serving over 30 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.