In the last three weeks, students participated in exciting, new activities in addition to re-familiarizing themselves with the the lab equipment, using the design thinking cycle, and preparing for the year ahead.

With the help of NASA engineer William Van Dalsem (Deputy Director, Aeronautics Directorate), tenth graders had the opportunity to visit NASA’s Ames Research Center; they got rare behind-the-scenes tours of their fluid mechanics lab, unitary wind tunnel, the “Space Shop” (NASA’s maker space), and the primary machine shop.

While the tenth graders got to tour NASA, eighth graders built their own computers and customized games on Minecraft with the help of Piper kits. CEO Mark Pavlyukovskyy of Piper and other upper management also spoke with students about running a startup. SLI and Piper are exploring future opportunities for students to work as Junior Developers at Piper.

For all students, Play Well worked with teams composed of students from each grade level on an open-ended team-building project; the company brought in tens of thousands of LEGO parts and had students build something that represented their time in SLI Summer Session. In addition to the large bins of various pieces, tables were set out with specific mechanisms, like conveyor belts, motors, and pulleys, that students were required to incorporate into their final product. Students enjoyed getting to know each other and creating a very diverse array of entertaining designs.

Additionally, with the goal of learning the significance of teamwork and planning, all grade levels worked on a significant design-thinking team project, directly learning the significance of the phrase “fail early, fail often.”

The summer is an exciting time for students to begin building on their knowledge from the year before and to tackle new challenges. Here’s to the year ahead and the experiences, learning, and growth it will bring!


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