Innovation Lab Students Making Headway

As the first trimester of the brand-new Innovation Lab @Ross drew to a close, the lab’s inaugural class of nine students received approval of their proposals for independent projects and are beginning to make progress on their work. Two students are reproducing significant scientific experiments and technologies. Gabe Lebow is building a machine that produces high-voltage, low-current electricity, known as a Tesla coil. Nate Dombrowski is working on an historically accurate recreation of Thomas Young’s double-slit experiment with light interference, which was first performed in the early 1800s and was a primary source for the establishment of the principle of wave-particle duality. Another student, Pearl Williams, is programming a computer chip to compose music.

Meanwhile, a pair of students has set their sights on technologies for a greener, more sustainable society, with Jeong Ho Ha making biodiesel fuel from algae, and Harrison Rowan focusing on developing an inexpensive, portable water purification system that would be easy to deploy in areas where clean water is scarce.

Others are engaged in projects that arose out of a collaborative request-for-proposal process with Ross faculty members at the August retreat, during which teachers suggested ways Innovation Lab students could augment their curricula. Sara Kay Stewart is using tools from the lab to handcraft a medieval longbow, at the request of the eighth grade team, and Malik Basnight and Luca Savarese are building a full-scale ballista, an ancient military weapon that fires 6-foot spears. The ballista will be explored in conjunction with a seventh grade unit on Roman machines. And as part of a larger plan to design and build a garden for and with students at the Lower School, Selena Garcia-Torres is experimenting in the field of vermicomposting to produce organic fertilizer for gardens at both the Upper and Lower School campuses.

In addition to their independent projects, the students are taking a course on Complex Systems, for which they will learn mathematical programming to represent the influence various systems have on each other. They have also met or corresponded with various external science mentors and organizations, including marine researchers from Stony Brook University and paleontologists at Cornell University.