The Hatchery Update


The Hatchery began at Camden Hills Regional High School in the Fall 2019. Administrators have been working for about a year and half to create the center aimed at fostering students’ innovation, problem-solving and design-thinking skills. A great deal of outreach and research went into the development of The Hatchery, and eventually resulted in a partnership with NuVu - An Innovation School in Cambridge, MA.  As part of that partnership, we have a fellow at CHRHS, Megan Valanidas, who is experienced in the design process and helping our teachers incorporate an innovation model into their courses. Zenith teacher, Emily Sapienza said “Megan and I have been collaborating and co-teaching all semester which makes it possible to run a really great program. She knows the design piece, and I know the [students], and working together teaches me how to think and plan courses this way, which in turn helps me bring innovation, problem-based and project-based practices more into my own curriculum planning.” In addition, CHRHS is offering its own courses and created a MakerSpace where much of the magic happens.

What are the courses and studios? 
As part of The Hatchery program, students may enroll in Introduction to Innovation Engineering which is a dual enrollment course with the University of Maine, so they receive high school and college credit. In the course, students are asked to identify a problem - the problems can be large societal issues or simple day-to-day inventions that improve household needs – and think of creative solutions to solve that problem then develop an original product from start to finish. 

The alternative education program at CHRHS, known as “Zenith”, has participated in couple of NuVu “studio courses.” The first, Children’s Books, explores the processes in book creation. Illustrator and Author, Chris Van Dusen, visited Zenith students to talk about how he authors and illustrates children’s books and displayed some of his original artwork. Emily shared, “students in the Children's Books studio have chosen topics for the books whichimage are difficult but important (like racism or loss of a parent) and have designed, written, and illustrated books which help children learn about and cope with those issues.” The Zenith program also learned about bioplastics, which is plastic made from biological material - not petroleum, and spent time making their own. The But I Recycle studio “seeks to ameliorate the huge environmental problem of plastic waste. Students choose an item from daily life (such as window panes or packaging on makeup cases) and are prototyping replacements for those objects with new ones they design which are made out of a biological plastic, that is, one that will decompose on its own rather than sit in a landfill for millennia”, said Emily. Children’s Books and But I Recycle are semester long studios.  

In the Spring, two additional studios will be offered to any CHRHS student: Nature Calling (building composting toilets) and Devices for Activism (how to design and create devices for a particular topic or issue). Next year, more opportunities through courses and studio work will be provided.  

Where do they develop their ideas into prototypes?
Have you ever wanted a space with all the tools and equipment at your fingertips, where your imagination can run wild? The MakerSpace, which is in the former Industrial Arts classroom, is where any tool imaginable is available, any medium is in sight to pull together to make ideas a reality. There are 3D printers, a laser cutter, woodworking, welding, and other capabilities, as well as a vast array of materials. Teachers can use the makerspace with their classes to redefine student products to demonstrate learning.

Students can access the makerspace through a class or simply on their own. They use the Makerspace to work out their ideas, build the prototypes, redesign or rework, and present final products. There is a photo studio within the Makerspace where students photograph their work at each stage of the process to create portfolios for feedback and for a grade. Within the Makerspace, one of our students may make a prototype for the next aquaculture harvesting system, a new book form, or new way to remotely remove snow from Maine walkways. The sky is the limit!

What will happen next?
Future growth of The Hatchery program includes renovating the lecture hall to an Incubator space where collaboration, community events, and classes can take place. There will be writeable walls, a sound studio, and a variety of collaboration and workspaces.

In the next year, the Hatchery plans to host a Speaker Series and Café Nights where students, community members, entrepreneurs, and business partners can get together to be inspired, discuss ideas, and network.

This summer, the district will host an Innovation Conference July 1-2, 2020. This exciting two-day conference at Camden Hills will bring educators, students, entrepreneurs, business people and industry leaders together through the eyes of innovation. Conference attendees will hear compelling stories from varied presenters from Doug Hall, founder of Eureka! Ranch, to Habib Dagher, founder of the Composites Lab at UMaine, to a panel of young entrepreneurial alumni with many others in between. It is a celebration of innovation in Maine, a call to what education could be, and why it all matters.

Registration will open soon.

Visit our website regularly for up-to-date information.

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