I realize I have been talking more than doing about the St. Gregory commitment to educating for innovation.   I have explained carefully to our students the four key synonyms for innovative upon which we will focus: creative, inventive, ingenious, and original.   And I have been working with a very experienced, but new to St. Gregory art teacher, Ginny Encila, to begin developing new programs highlighting innovation in the coming school year.

But here to my delight is a defined and vigorous initiative undertaken by our outstanding St. Gregory Science department: a new course in technology innovation to commence next year.

Course Title: Technology Innovation: Design-Build

Course Instructor: Dennis Conner and/or Scott Morris

A one-semester 1/2 credit course that may be taken more than once

Enrollment: open to grades 9-12

Technology Innovation: Design Build would center around students, either singularly or in small groups (if appropriate), exploring new technologies in a design and/or build context.  The class would meet during a regularly scheduled block, and most of the class time would be spent in design and construction of individual projects. Potential technologies to be investigated include: Solar (PV) panels: set-up, power evaluation, and DC/AC power conversion;   Passive Solar systems: performance evaluation; Windmills: design, evaluation and DC/AC power conversion,  Fuel cells: quantitative evaluation; Robotics: performance variables, measurement and modeling;  Electrochemical cells: variables influencing performance; Computer circuit boards: design and production for various applications;  Biofuel synthesis: distillation and other techniques.

There would be no formal homework or exams.  The proposed course would not qualify as an academic course and would be graded as credit/no credit.  Students would be expected to fund their project as needed.

To earn credit for the class, a student would need to satisfy three criteria:  (1) The student (or students) would be required to formulate and orally present a short proposal for the semester, outlining the nature and scope of their project; (2) The student must participate in a twice monthly class group meeting where students’ progress will be presented to the class; and (3) the student must present their final results at the end of the semester, either to the class or to some other group as appropriate.

The course may be repeated as long as the criteria for credit are met.

As you can see, the course is designed along great principles: students are invited to choose their topic of inquiry and design; they can work in collaborative teams; they are held accountable for results not by a letter grade but by periodic reports to peers and by a final presentation, one which potentially might be to an external audience. I look forward to sharing more, in the future, of our progress with this excellent new St. Gregory educational programming.