Pictured from left to right are Yvette Giller, Head of School Andrew Wooden, Jannine Tuttle, Sue and Ed Birch. (Marymount of Santa Barbara photo)

Marymount of Santa Barbara will open the school year with a newly constructed Center for Creative Design and Engineering.

Located on Marymount’s Riviera Middle School Campus, the new center will be in a freshly renovated building that has graced the school’s campus for generations and will blend in seamlessly on Marymount’s historic campus.

The Center’s early 20th century exterior is a contrast to the innovative 21st century learning that Marymount’s JK-8th grade students will experience inside the building.

Marymount’s Center for Creative Design and Engineering is the result of Marymount of Santa Barbara bringing educational frontrunners like Stanford and the innovation vanguard Ideo’s Design Thinking and the Maker Movement into school life and the curriculum.

Excitement about continuously finding the most effective ways to provide Marymount students with the 21st Century “C’s” – creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication – skills that education experts deem the most important not only for success in the future, but also for personal fulfillment, were behind generous support for the successful project.

Donors to the project will have a sneak peek at the soon-to-be finished center on Aug. 25.

Head of School Andrew Wooden explained, “The new center is a physical manifestation of the school’s values of intellectual preparation, individual flourishing and ethical collaboration – values that are intentionally woven into every moment of the school.”

In a recent Aha Presents radio interview, Jannine Tuttle, Director of Creative Design and Engineering and 8th grade physical science teacher at Marymount, explained the learning that will be happening in the new center and other areas of the curriculum.

“Design Thinking makes students consider the perspective of a specific person or group,” she said. “With that person or group’s needs in mind, students design a product or work to find a solution to a problem.

“Right now, for example, students are designing video games for young Cancer patients. As a part of this, they will learn what it feels like to be in and out of hospitals and good health.”

When asked why Design Thinking, she explained that Design Thinking is much more than an exercise in creativity.

It teaches students empathy and requires effective communication and constructive collaboration between peers.

It can also be woven into all areas of a school’s curriculum.

For example, in history class, Design Thinking can help students understand the motivations behind historic movements or well-known individuals.

When describing the impact of Design Thinking on student learning, Ms. Tuttle explained the fact that she – the teacher – does not know the one correct answer or what the final solution should be.

“Everyone’s creative contribution is valued and every voice is heard. Who knows where the answer will come from?”

She also explained the value of the process of continuous refinement that Design Thinking requires, “We have developed new language in the classroom and say things like, ‘Oh, you failed this time; you didn’t get it yet. You’re getting closer. Let’s keep what’s working and figure out what’s not…’

“This kind of iterative design and learning environment helps students understand that the brain is a muscle that you can continue to build and strengthen,” and that thinking this way imparts a “growth mindset,” a term that respected psychologist Carol Dweck developed to describe the mindset that helps student learning potential.

In the same Aha Presents interview, Head of School Andrew Wooden emphasized the underlining reason behind the school’s innovations and recent center, “What we are doing is making kids love learning, building confidence, and inspiring our students to go out into the world and do something good.

“Our alumni prove that what we are doing is working, and we continue to get better at it.”

Marymount’s Jannine Tuttle agreed, “It’s all about getting students excited about learning—the pure joy of it—and the benefits that can be gained by pushing through challenges.”

Marymount’s new Center for Creative Design and Engineering will be open to Marymount’s JK- 8th grade students for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Marymount’s annual Maker Fair, a community event scheduled for Oct. 16, 2016, will be an opportunity for the larger community to come to Marymount to see the new center as well as participate in hands-on, creative tinkering and fun activities run by Marymount’s teachers and students.

– Molly Seguel is director of admission for Marymount of Santa Barbara.