November 30, 2021
New Initiative: Academy by Design
Wheaton Academy’s commitment to relationships, excellence, and service has birthed a new initiative that will provide students with training, direction, collaboration, and class time to design and create projects that address real needs of real people.
The energizing idea is Human-Centered Design which includes involving the person (human) who has the problem in the process of solving it.
This program includes instruction in design thinking and project development in incremental steps over the four-year process. As freshmen and sophomores, students in the program learn how to design and to work in skilled-based collaboration to complete projects connected to their current classes. Ten freshmen and one sophomore are in the inaugural year of this program, aptly named Academy by Design.
The freshmen are all in the same Advanced Physics class, and their first-semester exam includes a modified assignment: the design and creation of a wind-up toy for children. In the course of the class, wind-up toys were used to teach a physics concept, but this group was asked to take the learning to another level. They observed a group of children playing with wind-up toys to determine the most entertaining features, and now they are working to design a toy that incorporates all they have learned in physics and from their observations. This simple project provides a first step in their hands-on learning of the design process. A required Winterim class in January for students in the program will focus on design principles, and they will design a second project for their spring final exam.
As juniors and seniors, students in the program will have schedules with greater flexibility that will yield blocks of time for work on project design and creation. Ideally, this time will also allow them to visit professionals in their field of interest to learn from them, or professionals will come to WA to share their expertise.
Academy by Design has been created with our mission statement as its driving force—preparing our Wheaton Academy students with excellent instruction and relationships with mentors to use their God-given interests and abilities to serve by meeting real needs of real people.