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San Domenico School News & Events

A Message from Kate Reeser Director of Teaching and Learning

Dear Parents,

As we evolve as a K-12 school, we continue to create student-centered experiences that cultivate responsive learning, innovative and creative thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving: collectively, design thinking. This is why creating space for and prioritizing our 3D Lab Makers Program is so important. The 3D Lab Makers Program at San Domenico is both a physical space and a curricular approach that asks students to “Dream it! Design it! and Do it!”

We are thrilled to share that the County has approved our plan for the 3D Lab, and construction is well underway. A HUGE THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR SD COMMUNITY MEMBERS WHO HAVE SO GENEROUSLY GIVEN FUNDS TO MOVE THIS PROGRAM AND SPACE FORWARD!

At San Domenico, design thinking and our 3D Lab bridge and unite all, three school levels. The lab space will provide students the opportunity for learning from one another and with one another.

As our Makers Program grows, teachers are engaging in professional development workshops, working collaboratively with one another, and engaging in school site visits, including a visit to Stanford’s DLab. Thus far, four of our teachers have also received the Maker’s Certification from Sonoma State.

As the 3D Lab space comes to fruition (you can see a few photos of the work-in-progress, below) our teachers have continued to grow and implement design thinking curriculum for our students. 

Design Thinking in Action...

In the Upper School, our Robotics Team works “outside of the box,” strategizing, learning to use aluminum parts, Java programming, daily record-keeping, and teamwork to achieve their goals. They envision their final products, note their available resources, and the strengths of their team members, and design, build, and program their robots. In Global Studies, students learn about the historical and religious developments of Islam and are tasked to come up with a symbol that epitomizes this religion. To do so, they are engaged in a mini-design thinking project, grounded in the five basic actions of design thinking. In Physics and Engineering, students build devices, which demonstrate principles discussed in class and serve to further their understanding of the topic at hand, a process that further develops their abilities to establish intuitive and clear understandings of the content and the functions of their designs. Recently, they built fountains, which creatively demonstrate the effects and interplay of air and water pressure, and trebuchets (a combination of a sling and a catapult) to meet the challenge of launching a tennis ball as far as possible, using only the 10 pounds of counterweight.

In the Middle School, Science students are working on long-term projects, to create pop-up books about plate tectonics. Students have dissected pop-up books to learn about how they are created, and have crafted rough drafts, or storyboards, for the books, to be shared with SD fourth graders. The students' next steps are to begin creating, keeping in mind their audience, what factors go into designing an interactive book, making sure to include at least three pop-up features, while also explaining plate tectonics, earthquakes, and volcanoes. History students are using “Minecraft,” to design ziggurats, under the essential unit question, “Why do historians classify ancient Sumer as a civilization?”

In the Lower School, while studying electricity, fourth grade students created Scribble Bots: motor driven, four pen robots, that draw in unusual ways. After building the robot, one of the many challenges for students was to make the robot draw in a circular pattern. This required problem-solving and trial and error. Third grade students designed and built Popsicle stick bird feeders, after learning about the needs of native birds. Fourth and fifth grade students will be starting a cardboard challenge that will be modeled after "Cain's Arcade." Students will work collaboratively, first creating a prototype model, and, then, after having their models approved, will create a full-scale model of an arcade or other interactive invention.

We thank you for your support of our 3D Lab and look forward to sharing more examples of design thinking and making at SD.


Kate Reeser
Director of Teaching and Learning