StC’s BUILD Lab Moves Into Permanent Home

StC introduces a dedicated campus space for hands-on design and experimentation.
Since 2014, StC’s BUILD program has allowed boys to be creative and experiment with hands-on design. The program was far-reaching across campus but never had a permanent home. This year, BUILD got a big upgrade. 

The BUILD lab is a brand-new dedicated space in Luck Leadership Center, with almost 1,000 square feet where students can design, experiment and collaborate. “The space is life-changing,” said Upper School Instructional Technologist Carey Pohanka. “A teacher’s entire class can come in and be comfortable and do a project.” The lab’s extra space allows room for new, upgraded equipment, including a second 3D printer.

With the introduction of a permanent, dedicated space on campus, boys are encouraged to visit in their free time. It is hoped that the lab will be a home for students who enjoy design, engineering or just being creative. “We know that boys do well with hands-on learning,” said Pohanka. “This is a space where they can just come in and tinker or experiment. For boys who love doing cool projects at home, now they can do it here.”

Every ninth grade boy is required to complete a primer course for BUILD, but the program extends beyond  Upper School. Lower and Middle School students participate in robotics and other group activities that fall under the BUILD umbrella, and there are plans for the program to reach every grade level at StC. “It’s really about having projects that other teachers can use in their curriculum. Just like I do with technology, I collaborate with them to come up with hands-on projects,” said Pohanka.

On Thursday, Pohanka led Upper School boys in a project to design a new, improved chess set. The program began with students interviewing chess players to empathize with their needs, a critical first step. The boys will then use that information to design their sets on computers and create physical pieces using a 3D printer. 

Pohanka’s approach to BUILD is to encourage students to innovate and think of the design process as a series of failures that propels their work. Without it, there is no progress. “We want them to embrace failure,” said Pohanka. “We think of failure as the end product, but it’s really part of the process.”