Chiang Center Spotlight
Joanne Miceli

Since the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration opened last fall, teachers and students have taken advantage of the technology, tools and space available in the state-of-the-art academic hub to work on a variety of projects. Here we spotlight some recent undertakings.

Go Team!

When she wanted to show her school spirit during Peddie Week last fall, Chiang Center student manager Summer Will '19 went beyond the traditional hand-painted sheet poster: She used the tools in the Chiang Center's maker space to create a vinyl "Beat Peddie" banner. "I used design software to draw a Buccaneer logo and the vinyl cutter and grommet machine to make the banner," she recounted. "I loved that banner and was really proud of the way it came out."

As the Headmasters' Societies Games approached in mid-February, Summer and fellow Chiang Center student manager Samantha Tsang '19 shared their maker space skills with students eager to create Team Breed, Kelley and Howard memorabilia at a Sunday-afternoon workshop. During the hands-on event, Samantha guided attendees through the design-and-fabrication process as they made vinyl stickers that captured their team spirit.

"The point was to teach students how to utilize the maker space tools safely and efficiently so they can apply that knowledge to future projects," Summer said. She and Samantha were satisfied with how the project turned out.

"The stickers were a huge hit, and we had a lot of fun making them," Samantha added. "It was really great to see the teams help and laugh with each other!"

Spanish 'Flash Project'

Inspiration hit language teacher Tim Devaney recently as he spent a free period in the Chiang Center: The facility's size and configurable spaces made it the ideal location for Spanish 3 honors students to complete a one-day "flash project." "I had the idea for my students to create a video reenactment of the classic, dramatic short story Un Día de Estos," Mr. Devaney explained. "The Chiang Center was spacious enough that each group of three or four students could find a nook where they could work undisturbed and complete the project during a single class meeting."

The class kicked off in a Chiang Center conference room, where Mr. Devaney discussed the assignment before students fanned out to the café, the ceramics studio and other Chiang Center venues. There, they took on the roles of the story's three characters and recreated its Spanish dialogue, all while taking turns filming on their cellphones.

"Film is a great medium for expressing ideas and playing with language," Mr. Devaney said, noting that students handled the film-editing end of the project, too. "I liked what my class was able to do in a short time and appreciated that we had a venue where we could tackle a creative and somewhat tangential project."

Maker Space Challenge

The Chiang Center maker space was the scene of the Headmasters' Societies Games' newest contest, a Rube Goldberg-style competition that tested students' design-and-build skills. Competitors from Teams Breed, Kelley, Sharpe and Howard met in the maker space just after noon on February 20 and took their places at team tables. As they surveyed the raw materials at their disposal—everything from wiffle balls and popsicle sticks to cardboard and rubber bands—computer science teacher Michael Garrant explained the challenge: Each team was to use the dominoes at their table to set up the first letter of their team's name, and then build a device that would knock it down.

The teams worked intently over the next several hours on their complex contraptions, aiming to gain as many points as possible by maximizing overall height, number of steps and transfers, and the time it took from start to final domino knockdown. A trial run and preliminary judging took place at 3 p.m., after which it was back to the drawing board for another hour of redesign, improvement and testing. When time was called at 4:30, each team demonstrated its final apparatus—and Team Sharpe emerged victorious amid cheering and high-fives.

Mr. Garrant and science teacher Chris Thatcher were on hand to advise and assist the student makers throughout the afternoon, and Mr. Garrant was impressed by the effort the teams invested in their devices. "The competition was a great way for students to get their hands on different materials and figure out how to use them to get the job done," he said. "We gave them a starting point—it was interesting to see the variety of approaches taken by each team to conquer the challenge."

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