Spotlight on Competitive Engineering Design & Media Arts Program at Saint Andrew’s School

Robotics and Engineering are among the most thrilling fields for students at Saint Andrew’s School as learning in these areas help poise Scots to make discoveries that are similar and even better than the driverless car, virtual reality, and drone technology advances that are transforming the world. 

Every day, Saint Andrew’s students engineer robots parts, code games, tinker with microprocessors and much more, and all the while these academic pursuits are part of the robust and diverse Design Technology and Media Arts Department. The pillars of study in this cutting edge program include 1) Engineering, Design, & Robotics, 2) Computer Science, and 3) Media Arts. 

Scots invent & innovate through coursework in the Design and Media Arts Department. The Design Technology and Media Arts Department contains courses and program offerings available to students in the Lower, Middle, and Upper School at SA. “Seeing a high demand for Engineering and Robotics, Saint Andrew’s offers a cohesive and aligned Pre-K through 12 program which meets the evolving demands of today’s students,” said Design Technology and Media Arts Department Head, Michelle Murray.

Engineering, Design, & Robotics at SA
Robotics courses in the Upper School focus on engineering and design process using hands-on application of mechanisms, machines, and robotic systems to solve dynamic challenges. The students collaboratively assemble, modify, and program the competition ready kits. Students add intelligence to a robot by programming different types of components and sensors to enable robots to work autonomously. 

Additionally, what makes the program unique is the wide range of offerings for youngest Pre-K students, through grades 6-8, as well as for students in 9-12. “The scope and range of Engineering, Design, and Robotics offerings at SA increases each student’s understanding of engineering as a potential career,” said Ms. Murray. “Now students can use industry standard machinery and techniques and the learning objectives align with the other student-centered approaches employed in Math, English, Science, Social Studies, and Art” she added. 

For Lower School students, their learning in engineering and design is integrated within the IB/PYP curriculum. Once students exit our Lower School and enter Middle School, they will have already built solar ovens, bridges, and executed multiple other design challenges. In the Middle School Engineering and Design program, students use the engineering design cycle to create prototypes for an end of year engineering showcase where they feature their uniques prototypes. They continue to ideate while creating projects through learning a variety of programming languages - creating water sensors for the hydroponic garden, making a robotic petting zoo along the way. 

In addition to coursework, each division engages students in Robotics competitions and leagues. Each league has a challenge that requires students to successfully design, build, and program a robot in order to compete. Lower School students participate in the FIRST Lego League (FLL), Middle School and Upper School students in grades 7-12 are engaged in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) and Upper School students compete at a very high level in the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). The FRC team, also known as the ‘Dirty Mechanics’ is a community driven team that is more advanced and is a mix of SA students as well as others from the greater Boca Raton area.  

Computer Science at SA
Saint Andrew’s unique Computer Science program allows students to become a part of the next generation of game designers, developers, and entrepreneurs. It all starts at the Lower and Middle School as students learn how to code using Scratch Jr. and Minecraft Edu. In the Middle School, students move on to create 2-dimensional games using game maker studio and other software. Students are also learning Computer Animated design (CAD). 

One exciting course offered in the area of Computer Science at the Upper School is Post AP Game Design, a challenging course that teaches students the core principles of game design using Unity and C#. In this course, students deepen their coding knowledge through the process of creating a game concept and taking it through design documentation, prototyping, and testing, while learning algorithms used in the gaming industry. “There’s a cognitive response to characters, strategy, and understanding how to win. Many colleges are offering this course now and SA is thrilled to prepare students for innovative university level coursework and careers,” said Ms. Murray. 

Media Arts at SA
Saint Andrew’s sees the growing career trend in the field of multimedia arts, and thus is working to aptly prepare Scots with skills to be future leaders and innovators in this exciting and expanding field. In the Lower School, students learn video production techniques including stop motion animation with the green screen. Additionally, grades 4 and 5 students participate in creating a weekly news show called WSAS using beginning narration techniques, interviewing, and filming skills. 

The Middle School Video Production course involves the generation of a variety of videos, taking projects through all three phases of production. They learn the vocabulary of cinematography, work with HD cameras, mics, lighting, video/audio editing equipment, chroma-key, and assume roles and responsibilities for each part of the production team (both in front of and behind the camera).

The Upper School acclimates students to a deeper study of Media Arts with coursework such as Advanced Media Production, Sports Broadcasting, Film Studies, Creating the TV Pilot, and Social Media Production. From learning to create content unique to internet culture to being exposed to on-air broadcasting, video streaming, scriptwriting, interviewing, editing, and graphic design - there are so many cutting edge multimedia communications learning targets that position students at SA to be leaders in the vast and expanding field of multimedia arts. 

Leading-Edge Maker Spaces & Design Labs at SA 
It’s not only Saint Andrew’s program that’s on the cutting-edge of innovation for student innovators and makers - it’s also the impressive 21st-century learning spaces that propel Scots forward. The Engineering Design Technology Suites in the new Dr. Albert Cohen Family Center for Entrepreneurial Studies is a space where design thinking is visible each and every day. These spaces look like real-world engineering labs where Upper School students work on laser printing, 3D printing, testing engineering and robotic prototypes, coding, and much more. “Unlike many other classrooms around campus, the glass walls of these Design labs allow passers-by to witness the ideation, collaboration, creativity, and innovation happening within. Seeing a robot being built or operated by a cluster of students is truly an inspiring sight,” offered Ms. Murray. 

The Kessler Digital Media Institute, in the new Dr. Albert Cohen Family Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, is home to professional-level film, media, and audio equipment. Students in grades 9-12 innovate each day in the areas of video production, special effects, audio recording, and motion graphics. Using this technology, students engage in on-air broadcasting and video streaming - both live and in a post-production environment. 

Head of School, Ethan Shapiro applauds Saint Andrew’s industrious Upper School students as they get the most out of the Labs and Maker Spaces in the Cohen Center. “You can view our robotics team tinkering – and then turn around and see the investment class analyzing stocks. A quick walk down the halls and you can see students broadcasting sports…it’s simply amazing,” Shapiro said.

In the Middle School, The Dream Lab is a central hub of the Design Technology and Robotics program for students in grades 6-8. It is a refurbished innovative space for making, home to top of the line microprocessors, 3-D printers, maker carts, and maker benches - all equipped with power tools, electronic tools, and design supplies. Students use these components to create a wide range of STEM projects. 

In the Lower School, students develop virtual game worlds, engineer, design, code, build, and ideate in the Engineering Design Technology and Robotics Lab. 

Design Technology & Media Arts at SA: A Unique Program Evolving to Meet the Needs of Saint Andrew’s Students

New courses are being created every year that position SA at the forefront of innovation. Next year, students in the Upper School can take coursework that focuses more on engineering concepts. SA is also working on setting up competitive dual enrollment courses with universities in the local area. Students who take pre-engineering and computer science in the Upper School could earn college credit at certain universities such as Florida Atlantic University (FAU).

Saint Andrew’s considers the architecture of the Design Technology and Media Arts program a leading-edge model for innovative curriculum. “One thing among many that makes our Design Technology and Media Arts Department so valuable for students is that there are so many diverse offerings within one department,” said Ms. Murray. 


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A non-profit, independent, co-educational school for grades Pre-K - 12, Saint Andrew's School is a private day and boarding school located in Boca Raton, educating the best students from across Palm Beach County, Florida, the United States, and throughout the world in the Episcopal tradition.
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