Hewitt News

Makers, Builders, Creators: Getting to Know Hewitt’s Innovation Lab
Erik Nauman and Young Kim, Technology Integrators

On any given day, visitors to Hewitt’s O’Hara Family Innovation Lab might smell the burnt wood of the laser cutter, see traces of sawdust left over from a woodworking project, or hear the hum of a 3D printer bringing student designs to life. 

The Innovation Lab was created to provide Hewitt students with opportunities to make and design using both hand tools and digital fabrication methods. Whether students are building picture frames, printing 3D recreations of an artifact from ancient Greece, or repairing electronics, their work in the lab helps them learn about the product design process, including steps such as representing designs, measuring dimensions, and working with a variety of materials. 

Every Innovation Lab project makes use of several different technologies, showing students that every tool has its uses and a maker must learn to choose the most appropriate tools for each task. In just a few short months, Hewitt’s middle and upper school students have produced a variety of creative projects in the lab:

  • In Paddle Boats: Design It, Build It, Race It, a middle school elective, students are using digital fabrication and hands-on building to make custom paddle boats for a water raceway. Many aspects of the project are led by the students through collective decisions or voting. 
     
  • The entire fifth grade used the laser cutter to collaborate on a puzzle, with each student etching a word inspired by their grade-level theme, independence, on their puzzle piece. 
     
  • Eighth grade visual arts students are learning to plan, measure, cut, and fasten wood as they build handmade picture frames. They have used hand and power saws safely and effectively and relied on their laptops and the laser cutter to code designs to etch into their frames. 
     
  • Upper school Advanced Robotics students are making their own programmable hardware by designing and creating custom circuit boards with lights that flash in different patterns, to be milled on a Carvey CNC mill. 
     
  • In Design & Making, an upper school elective, students are working through the design thinking process to create helpful classroom or office tools. With the variety of digital fabrication tools available in the lab, students are able to take their ideas from paper sketches to functional objects like custom file organizers and compact office shoe racks. 

Work in the Innovation Lab touches on the academic pillars that ground teaching and learning at Hewitt. As Hewitt’s middle and upper school technology integrators, we spent time researching which tools and technologies would bring the most exciting and integrative projects to our community. We participated in workshops, attended conferences, and visited similar spaces in other schools before developing projects that would offer Hewitt’s students and teachers a sense of what is possible in the lab. For the students, working in the Innovation Lab encourages presence, as they have to remain mindful and self-aware as they learn how to safely and effectively utilize new and complex woodworking tools. They also practice empathy as part of the design process, thinking of the people who will use what they make and what their needs may be. 

Within the Innovation Lab, Hewitt students are experiencing rich, hands-on learning as they become makers, builders, and creators. 
 

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In Hamlet, Shakespeare wrote, “We know what we are, but we know not what we may be.” Well, I know something of what we are. We’re venturers and friends, students and sisters. Above all, we are Hewitt girls. As we walk out into the next stages of our lives as women, we do so with the immeasurable potential to become anything we want to be.  

Good morning, families, students, colleagues, members of the Board of Trustees, and first among equals, good morning to the Hewitt Class of 2018. Look around you and memorize this moment, your classmates, your families, your teachers, this beautiful place, and the chance to sit quietly just for a little while so you can remember it. 

This April, the Hewitt community gathered to celebrate the opening night of our student-curated art exhibition, Diversity and Identity: The Pieces of Your Puzzle. From thoughtful self-portraits to an interactive world map to a school-wide collaborative mural, each work of art spoke to the exhibition’s theme, recognizing the beauty of the Hewitt community’s diverse perspectives and experiences. 

As most people were just waking up and beginning their morning routines, the 14 members of Hewitt’s varsity tennis team were arriving at the courts ready to practice. The hardworking and passionate team grew incredibly close over the course of the season, making it all the way to the quarterfinals of the AAIS tournament, with an impressive 7-3 record the rest of the season. 

This spring, faculty advisors focused the ninth grade advisory program on empathy skill-building and trained in council, a method of story sharing developed by the Ojai Foundation. Council provides a space where students can voice their opinions and share their stories, knowing they will be heard by their peers without comment or judgment. 

Earlier this year, first graders noticed the chairlift at the front entrance to McKelvey Hall. When it came time for students to begin their study of Central Park, Ms. Hashim seized the opportunity to change the traditional curriculum, harnessing her students’ interest by learning about Central Park through the eyes of the elderly or disabled. 

This March, visitors to Hewitt’s third grade classrooms found themselves rubbing elbows with a myriad of famous and vibrant women from every era of history. Guests expecting an ordinary wax museum full of motionless figures were in for a treat as the third graders, dressed as historical figures, came to life to share their stories.

Whether building a robot from scratch or working alongside a teammate to troubleshoot a pesky programming glitch, students in Hewitt’s middle school robotics program are design-thinkers and problem-solvers who learn from their successes and challenges. 

Estefania Suquilanda, Hewitt’s lower school tech support specialist, has always had a passion for repairing gadgets. “My goal is to pass on the repair bug to Hewitt students from kindergarten to twelfth grade. Whether dealing with a cracked phone screen or an argument with a best friend, knowing how to repair things is an important skill to have.”

Hewitt kindergarteners approach their role as Hewitt's newest community members with fresh eyes, deep curiosity, and lots of enthusiasm. Throughout their first year of school, kindergarteners focus on identity explorations, learning about their larger school community and their own role in that community. 

Hewitt’s commitment to sustainability spans divisions and disciplines. Between clubs, courses, and community service, faculty members are developing a variety of ways for students, teachers, and families to get involved with efforts to spread awareness and education about the environment. 

Hewitt’s Sandwich Friday tradition goes back to 2005, when this service relationship originally began in our first, second, and third grade classrooms. Since then, it has expanded to fourth grade and kindergarten so that every member of the lower school shares in this empathy-building experience. 

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Each year, Hewitt’s world languages department offers opportunities for middle and upper school students to travel abroad to Spanish- and French-speaking countries. These trips, filled with new experiences and discoveries, provide students with the chance to immerse themselves in the language, culture, history, and culinary traditions of different cities. 

This October, three upper school Graphic Design students attended the 12th annual Teen Design Fair, where they caught the attention of graphic designers from Sesame Workshop. 

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Faculty member Erik Sommer discusses his summer art installation at Fastnet, an alternative exhibition space in Red Hook, Brooklyn. 

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From the first day of rehearsals the cast of "The Cripple of Inishmaan" jumped at the chance to take on the challenges posed by this complex text.

At Hewitt, we believe in empowering girls to establish a sense of self rooted in confidence, empathy, and hardiness through active, girl-centered academics and authentic connections to the world beyond our campus. 

In December 2016, six upper school students and nine faculty and staff members attended the annual People of Color/Student Diversity Leadership Conference in Atlanta.

At The Hewitt School, all middle school students are given the opportunity to learn robotics, and interested girls are encouraged to build on this foundation by participating in our Hawks Robotics elective. 

This March, over 700 members of the Hewitt community, including students, current and incoming families, alumnae, faculty, staff, and Met Museum educators, gathered at The Vinegar Factory to celebrate the opening of Feminist Stance: What Do You Stand For?