Coding, Making, 3D Printing, and Learning

PIRL space in use during Creator’s Studio

To give students the opportunity to stretch their creative ideas and manifest them in the physical world, they need the appropriate space, tools, time, and support at their schools. St. Matthew’s Parish School in Pacific Palisades, CA, has created what they believe to be the necessary environment to foster this creativity


St. Matthew’s Parish School has two dedicated spaces where tools are most readily accessible. The first space is the Project & Idea Realization Lab (PIRL), which is described as the clean work space. It is outfitted with the following tools and materials:

■ Four 3D printers

■ Various Arduino microcontrollers and Raspberry Pi

Hummingbird robotics kits

■ Soldering irons, and other electronics tools

■ Spare parts, including motors, switches,LEDs, resistors, toy wheels, and fans

The PIRL space is designed to facilitate the kind of learning environment that allows for creativity, flexibility, and collaboration. The tables can quickly be configured to accommodate pairs, small groups, and large groups. They also fold up, roll, and nest into each other when not used. Most of the walls are writable surfaces, one with a SMART interactive projector that makes it a touch surface as well. Electrical pull-downs are placed in the ceiling for easy access to power anywhere in the room. A giant wall for storage, a green screen filming area, and two audio recording studios complete this indoor space. Just outside, accessible through a roll-up garage-style door, is an additional work area for students that also includes a large wall with writable surface.

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New Science Standards Emphasize Hands-On Learning

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In 2013, the California State Board of Education approved new science standards for K through 12 classes.

They’re called the Next Generation Science Standards and put a stronger emphasis on actually doing science rather than just memorizing facts.

It represents a huge shift for teachers and many schools have yet to make the transition.

They have until around 2017 at the earliest to do so, but a handful of districts are already giving the new standards a trial run and sharing what they learn with the rest of the state.

That’s what’s happening this year at Palm Springs Unified School District.

PSUSD and a few other select districts landed grants from the state and from the non-profit research and development agency WestEd to spend the next three years testing out and developing curriculum around NGSS.

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