Riverbend’s Innovation Program uses a multi-pronged approach to foster an entrepreneurial, iterative mindset in students. Focusing on creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication, information literacy, STEM and maker knowledge and character skills, students are encouraged to solve meaningful problems via a critique-based design process. The Innovation Program uses both specific dLab classes as well as a classroom integration model to deliver a particularly meaningful experience.

The Riverbend Design Lab, or dLab, refers both to a physical space and the style of learning that goes on within it. The dLab is inspired by NuVu Studio, MIT Media Lab and Stanford It is a collaborative space hosting tech classes for students grades 2-8 as well as opportunities for teacher professional development and student extension activities. The dLab and its staff are resources for project-based learning in Riverbend classrooms. dLab-based projects encourage an entrepreneurial, passion-based approach to learning via creativity and the iterative process. Work is hands-on, active learning through STEM-rich topics like robotics, coding and programming, graphic design, digital media, stop motion animation, design and prototyping. Projects encourage creativity, collaboration, metacognition, patience, independence and flexibility; skills that are the hallmark of an innovative Montessori education.

Riverbend’s lower elementary students are encouraged to approach their dLab class as a hands on experience using the various tools and applications available in the dLab. Using iPad design and video/image editing apps, art materials, block programming, robotics equipment, and other dLab resources, students work together to solve a problem posed in class. Regular conversation and reflection support the iterative and creative processes.

Upper elementary students practice basic skills involved with the various tools and applications available in the dLab in a collaborative setting. Using iPad and web-based design and video/music/graphic editing apps, art materials, block programming, robotics equipment and other design and fabrication tools, students tackle thematic, STEAM-based projects connected to the overarching question “What is innovation?”  Regular, age-appropriate critiques and project reflections support the iterative process.

As the leaders of the school, middle school students pursue unique applications of technologies and prototyping to invent and create via a capstone project. Using design apps, block programming, basic coding, robotics, graphics and multimedia editing applications, and design and fabrication tools, students are asked to solve thematic, real world problems through innovation. Regular critiques, digital project portfolios, and a collaborative environment support the iterative and creative processes.