Technology Center / Maker Space

Blue Ridge’s Technology Center/Maker Space is hard to miss.  That’s on purpose.  One of the goals of this multi-use facility is to be easily accessible by faculty, staff and students as well as quite visible to visitors.  This is just one more innovative step as the School continues to make advancements in technology.

Director of Technology Wayne Peterson explains that moving much of what is in the computer labs to an area that receives more traffic has been in the works for several years.  Combining items such as a laser cutter, a 3D printer, computers with 3D design software as well as other digital tools with actual hand tools such as hammers and screwdrivers is a technology development that is particularly suited to young men.

The space is at the top of the steps just outside the dining hall and features large windows so that everyone at the School as well as the rest of the world can see what is happening as adults and teenagers make full use of the center.

Technology Coordinator Michael Burris is advising faculty, staff and students in how to make the most of the various tools in the space.  He’s available for training and assisting faculty in their own classrooms as well.  Michael is currently teaching three technology-related classes while Wayne continues to teach two such classes in the computer lab. 

The current curriculum model allows the department to offer several elective courses over three trimesters.  These courses are adapted to the scheduling needs of the core academic courses.  Working within these constraints, the technology department offers the following courses.

Robotics (year-long course) – prepares student to build and program robots using Lego and Tetrix components and RobotC programming environment;

Introduction to Building Digital Hardware, Programming and Coding (one section each trimester) – project-based class which introduces students to coding and web design using HTML, CSS and JavaScript during first trimester and computer hardware so that students may build their own computers during the second trimester;

Digital Communications and Design (one section each trimester) – students learn how to produce, edit and publish audio and video content using a variety of software platforms including the Adobe Creative Suite and Pro Tools Audio software. Students learn the art of creating compelling documentaries, short films, sport highlight reels, informative news clips, commercials and podcasts. Students gain hands-on experience using professional audio and video recording equipment;

Design Thinking and Problem Solving with Technology (one section each trimester) – hands-on course during which students identify problems and resolve them by using digital and traditional tools;

Digital Citizenship (one section each trimester) – overview of digital privacy, appropriate use of digital resources, and the use of technology as tools for learning; Robotics (afternoon sport during winter trimester) – students participate in an FTC or similar robotics competition.

The future is nothing but bright as the scope and sequence of the technology curriculum will continue to be tweaked.  One part of the plan, for example, is to transition the Digital Citizenship class from the technology classroom to integrated units within certain academic courses.

Wayne is quick to point out, “None of these changes are just for the sake of changes.  Technology needs to enhance a teacher’s ability to instruct and a student’s interest in learning.  That is Blue Ridge School’s constant focus when creating these new opportunities.”

In a time when the line between boys and girls seems blurred, I think Blue Ridge stands out. The world still expects boys to become gentlemen and that is something only boys can become. Gentlemen are produced through experience and atmosphere, which is where Blue Ridge excels. - Archie Morgan (father of Jacob '15, Connor '16 and Selby '19)