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Stepping Into a New World: The iTHINK Initiative

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Evaluating and solving problems. Thinking critically. Thriving in an environment of change.

The benefits of a STEAM education far surpass the academic knowledge of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. STEAM teaches students how to think, how to innovate and how to lead -- skills that create inspired, determined and unstoppable learners.

For that reason, the STEAM concept has gained momentum over the past few years. Schools and parents recognize these universal skills provide students with an advantage in the classroom, in the workforce, and in all areas of life.


At Maclay School, we’re taking that momentum more than just one step further. We’re taking it miles ahead, with the iTHINK initiative.


Maclay’s iTHINK initiative stands for Technology, Hands-on, Innovation, Network, and Knowledge. It’s about educating students and giving them access to the tools they need while also preparing them to think in new and exciting ways.

iTHINK is a re-envisioning of Maclay’s classrooms, curriculum, and campus to reflect more than the current state of a liberal arts education in order to prepare students for a world that has yet to be imagined.

Maclay’s Head of School James Milford states, “I’ve always been wary of schools who use STEM or STEAM as window-dressing but did not have the programming and fundamental shift within their school to do these things well.  When you break it down, STEAM/STEM are: (S) Science and (M) Math are the what, (T) Technology and (A) Art are the where or mediums we use, and (E) Engineering is the how we use or create.  It is nice to put STEM or STEAM out in front, but unless you have changed how you think as an institution, your outcomes don’t change and the students don’t benefit.  I’m proud that at Maclay, we are doing it right!”

Through hands-on, experiential learning, K-12 programming, and state-of-the-art science labs and services, iTHINK will radically change the way Maclay students learn, creating a meaningful interaction between the student and the subjects about which they’re most curious.

iTHINK will transform the future of Maclay students.

Curiosity abounds in the minds of current Maclay students -- science classes are 140% full at the moment, and 76% of the 2017 graduating class chose to take more than the required science courses. With a school full of STEAM-minded students (and many other eager young minds in the Tallahassee area), Maclay leadership has created a new iTHINK initiative at the school.

This is how iTHINK will open students’ minds -- and their future possibilities:

Curriculum

  • Unique Curriculum and Activities for All Students: iTHINK will drive an expanded K-12 curriculum, programs and staffing additions for the 2018-2019 school year, which will provide students with even more opportunities to develop and enhance hands-on learning and critical-thinking skills. Students will also have access to iTHINK-focused after-school activities and summer camps.
  • Engineer Your World Curriculum: This summer, Computer Science instructor Joe Kupiszewski attended a two-week emersion program in Texas. Developed by a team of University of Texas faculty, NASA engineers, and secondary teachers working with funding from the National Science Foundation, Engineer Your World is an innovative, student-centered curriculum that engages learners in authentic engineering experiences and inspires them to embrace an engineer’s habits of mind.
  • Expansion of Science Concentrations: Upper School students will have the opportunity to focus their education by exploring concentrations in Computer Science, Engineering & Robotics; Biomedical & Applied Science Research; or Core Science, with access to higher-level courses.
  • New Classes and Clubs: The Lower School will welcome a new computer science instructor this fall who will teach K-5 students keyboarding, coding, digital citizenship and other skills to build a solid technical foundation.  Students will have access to a Tech Club, Green Club, Math Olympiad and Mini-Mu Math Competition. The Middle School will benefit from the Tech Club, Coding Club, Makerspace and LEGO League Robotics. Middle School computer science curriculum will also include Computer Science (6th grade), Robotics (7th Grade), and Coding (8th grade) with long-time faculty member Dean Garguilo.  Upper School has expanded the Coding Club and Robotics Club, and added new Computer Science courses from introductory to AP, and new Engineering courses.

Classrooms

  • On-Campus Applied Science Research: The new Beck Family Research Center, opening in summer 2018, will include three new labs: The Marie Krafft BioMed Research Lab which will have secured space for our students doing continuous research and BioMed courses such as Anatomy and Physiology. The Inspiration and Design Lab will be home for digital design, pottery and ceramics, and Computer Science, Robotics and Engineering lab offers new Engineering I and II courses along with the only AP Computer Science courses in the area. Labs will be equipped with:
    • The latest VEX Robotics equipment
    • Biomedical equipment, including heart rate monitors, lactate analyzer, cycle ergometer, portable spirometer, bioimpedance body composition analyzer and more
    • State-of-the-art computers
    • Pottery wheels and kilns
    • Photo backdrops and computers for design
    • Steelcase Active Learning furniture
  • Maclay Partnerships: From Pre-K through grade 12, Maclay has partnerships in place that enhance the student experience in the classroom and the lab. These partnerships provide internship opportunities, access to unique field trips, and allow students to experience elite guest speakers. iTHINK partnerships are being established and expanded, including those with:
    • FSU, including the College of Human Sciences, Chemistry & Biochemistry department, and more
    • FAMU School of Architecture and Engineering and VEX Robotics program
    • The National Science Foundation
    • The Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas
    • The College of Education at the University of Texas (an international network of schools from around the U.S. and South Korea)

Transforming Campus

  • State-of-the-art Facilities: In addition to the new Beck Family Research Center, the new Center for Innovation and Student Services, which will be breaking ground in 2019, will be a core hub of student activity. It will include six state-of-the-art science labs, computer science lab, administration offices, college counseling and a student commons for collaboration and gatherings. Indoor and outdoor space will ensure that students have access to everything they need to learn in a hands-on environment. Classrooms will be equipped with active-learning concept furnishings to maximize student-centered instruction and collaboration.
  • Access to Events: Faculty encourages students to test their skills and knowledge by participating in competitions and other events. Two students recently participated in the State Science and Engineering Fair of Florida with great success (one moved on to the International competition), and Maclay students have or will soon participate in:
    • Student Astronaut Challenge
    • Vex Robotics Competition
    • Lockheed Martin CodeQuest
    • FSU’s Mini-Med Program
    • Tallahassee Informatics Olympiad
    • National Flight Academy at National Aviation Museum
    • Various Coding Competitions

As a result of the iTHINK initiative, students will be better prepared for life beyond Maclay.

“Science, technology, and mathematics play an increasingly important role in today’s society.  Its importance and relevance will only increase, so it is gratifying to see Maclay’s new iTHINK course offerings and facilities. They will further strengthen Maclay’s unique educational offerings in the Tallahassee area and better prepare its graduates for matriculation to the best science and engineering universities in the country,” said supporters Kelly and Mike Beck.


To learn more about the iTHINK initiative and the impact it can have on your student, contact Carri Smith at ccsmith@maclay.org.