Innovation Hub launched at Boyce Middle School

Upper St Clair Twp School District  |  Posted on
Fifth grader Ryan Sibley uses the Hummingbird Robotics Kit to animate a simple paper cup.

Fifth grader Ryan Sibley uses the Hummingbird Robotics Kit to animate a simple paper cup.

Boyce Middle School is enjoying a newly developed STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) Design class, located in the Innovation Hub @ Boyce Middle School. Students create, explore, tinker and code with a variety of materials as they learn about problem solving and creative solutions.

The Innovation Hub @ Boyce Middle School was created during the summer and launched at the start of the 2016-17 school year through private funding. The Active Learning Center program, a grant initiative founded by Steelcase Education, provided a $62,000 grant award for the state-of-the-art furniture and classroom design. Additional technology equipment, supplies and minor renovations were made possible through support from Upper St. Clair SD’s vendors and partners in education.

This year STEAM Design is part of the expressive arts rotation – taking the place of what was previously industrial arts. Skills practiced include coding, robotics and engineering using a variety of materials such as K’NEX and KEVA planks, robotics kits, and craft supplies. The big takeaways that all Boyce students will gain from the STEAM Design class include the following: 1) problem solving: tinkering/playing, making/creating and engineering/designing; 2) the Design Cycle: think, make, improve, fix and make better; and 3) The Four Cs: critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity.

STEAM Design instructor Matt Henderson and his teacher partner Kristin Cilli are planning to offer a new weeklong, summer STEAM camp for students entering grades 4 through 6. “We have to be innovative in getting students creating and making when they’re not in STEAM Design class,” Henderson said. “The real goal is to get students to stop consuming and start creating.”

Modeled after the Innovation Hub @ Upper St. Clair High School, which opened in 2014 and includes a MIT-certified FAB Lab, the Boyce initiative furthers the district’s strategic plan to increase STEAM opportunities for all students. The next step is to create a similar facility and program at Fort Couch Middle School.

Read more on this program on the Upper St. Clair SD website: