INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY AT DAWSON
Courses offered by the Innovation and Technology department are designed to give students the chance to take ownership of their learning by exploring new tools, trying out new ideas, taking risks, and iterating in their work. These courses are interdisciplinary; developing creative technology skills and bringing ideas together from a variety of subjects including art and media, math and science, and humanities. Self directed exploration, problem solving, tinkering, and collaboration are the heart of great learning and facilitate students’ growth. Ever evolving technologies used in these courses may include a variety of programming languages, digital fabrication machines, electronics, a variety of printing formats (3D printers, 2D laser cutters, large format, plotters, etc.), sewing equipment, multimedia tools and more. Innovation and Technology courses will allow students opportunities to bring their passion and personality into developing their ideas.
The Innovation and Technology curriculum is focused on five primary areas:
Foundational Technology Skills - Students learn to use age appropriate hardware and software tools used for creativity, productivity, and collaboration including creating and sharing documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and general technology literacy
Programming - foundations of coding in a variety of languages giving students opportunities to solve problems using algorithms
Engineering and Design - electronics, 3D modeling/printing, prototyping, fabrication
Robotics - design, construction, operation, and application of robots
Digital Media - photography, video, audio, learning portfolios and reflections
Members of the Innovation and Technology Department work with classroom teachers to develop projects that allow students to deepen their understanding of the concepts and content they are studying while using a variety of modern technologies. We believe that the best learning environment is one of application. We strive to create authentic conditions for technology application, and learning.
Dawson Center for Innovation
The Dawson Center for Innovation opened in the fall of 2020 and is a hub for creativity and exploration of all kinds. The programming described on this page, as well as Upper and Middle School science classrooms are housed in the new facility. Learn more here (page to come).
Innovation and Technology in Upper School
Upper School students have opportunities to use a variety of technology tools across the curriculum. Members of the Innovation and Technology department work with teachers to identify and apply relevant tools within their courses. In addition, students have many Innovation and Technology elective options that teach students digital fabrication, electronics prototyping, 3d modeling, 2d design, a variety of programming courses, game design, filmmaking, and wearables. Beginning in 2021-22, there will be a new graduation distribution requirement where Upper School students must take a minimum of two semesters of Innovation and Technology courses. This will begin with 9th graders and eventually include all Upper School students.
Current Upper School Innovation and Technology course offerings include:
AP Computer Science A (year-long course)
AP Computer Science Principles (year-long course)
Film Making for a Purpose
Inventing with Technology
Programming I (Python)
In addition, there are many Upper School courses that heavily integrate Innovation and Technology into their curriculum. Some of these classes include: Digital Art, Digital Music, Physics and Design, Biotechnology
Upper School students are required to bring their own mobile device (tablet or laptop) to school each day. This gives students access to Dawson’s high-speed network, email accounts, and learning portal. US students will have access to all of the tools and technologies in the Innovation Center to design projects for their classes as well as opportunities to bring their ideas to life. Students can choose to take part in several additional programs including robotics, a paid internship with Anark
, and the Distinction in Innovation
Innovation and Technology in Middle School
Students in Middle School are provided a MacBook Air for use as one of their daily school supplies. Students use their laptop for a variety of productive and creative tasks. These devices allow for students to collaborate and communicate with peers and teachers. All students have access to powerful design and productivity tools including the entire Adobe Creative Suite, Google Drive, and a wealth of other online tools. Students access online content for their classes in the Dawson Portal.
6th Grade Innovation and Technology class:
In 6th grade, students will move beyond the skills and concepts they developed in Lower School and begin to work on more advanced projects. Students will explore some of the graphic design tools in Adobe Creative Suite. We will focus on utilizing Photoshop and Illustrator in the creative process. In addition, students will learn to code microcontrollers and incorporate them to create a wide array of products and projects. Advanced coding concepts will also be a focus utilizing both drag and drop blocks of code as well as text based coding environments. Students will continue working with 3D modeling programs with the introduction of some new challenges and software options to help them bring their creations to life.
7th and 8th Grade Innovation and Technology elective options include:
Maker Workshop - Maker Workshop is a project based class that gives Middle School students an opportunity to explore modern digital fabrication tools including 3D printing, laser cutting, electronics, and coding by using these tools to solve a real world design challenge
All sixth through eighth grade students take part in technology based enrichment courses that focus on developing skills and provide a project based opportunity for students to learn and explore. These courses will teach students about digital communication, data visualization, and 3D modeling.
6th Grade Enrichment: Multimedia- In this class students are introduced to visual tools that can be applied across multiple academic subject areas. They will learn how to use a variety of applications including Adobe Creative Suite and several other web based programs that allow students to bring their ideas to life using sound, video, and graphic design.
7th Grade Enrichment: Working with Data - Students learn to capture, organize and analyze data. They will learn to communicate through collaboration and creation of data visualizations.
8th Grade Enrichment: 3D Modeling - Students learn to create 3D models using Onshape, a web-based CAD tool. The class teaches students the fundamentals of working in 3D space including creating relationship driven sketches and turning them into 3D elements using the extrude, revolve, loft tools.
In addition, there are a variety of co-curricular activities that give Middle School students opportunities to explore creative uses of technology. MS Innovation and Technology Co-curriculars include:
Innovation and Technology in Lower School
Lower School students explore how technology can be used in the creative process. Students learn to leverage innovative tools to combine information and ideas with their creativity. Lower Schoolers have access to iPads and MacBook Air laptops, two 3D printers, programmable EV3 Lego Mindstorm robots, Little Bits electronic circuit prototyping kits, as well as a variety of engineering / construction kits.
Lower School Students receive Innovation and Technology instruction twice a week. In addition to these classes, the Innovation and Technology Specialist works with classroom teachers on collaborative grade level projects using a variety of tools. We believe that the best learning environment is one of application so we always strive to couple the learning of technology skills such as coding or graphic design with knowledge gained in the classroom. One example might be to create a narrated stop-motion film made in iMovie documenting the lifecycle of a tree seed or to using Google Earth to map and annotate the paths of early western explorers like Zebulon Pike and Jedediah Smith.
The Innovation and Technology curriculum revolves around our five core areas of study: Coding, graphic design, engineering, robotics, and foundational skills (how to use technology effectively). Many projects, such as coding of Lego Mindstorm Robots tend to cover several of these core areas simultaneously: coding the robots, engineering the attachments for various missions, and using cloud storage to save and modify long-term projects.
In addition to these five core areas there is strong focus on digital citizenship. Lower School students are entering an age where knowledge of proper internet usage is crucial. Teaching them how to navigate the online world safely is a top priority. Students will learn to identify phishing attempts, deal with cyberbullying, create and protect passwords, and appropriate uses of social media. Students complete a deep dive into all of these concepts and subsequently create public awareness campaigns through a variety of media to share their knowledge with parents and peers.