November 8, 2011
Betsy Torg Deidra Lyngard
Director of Media Relations Director of Communications/WG
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy Springside Chestnut Hill Academy
215-247-7200, ext 7131 215-247-4700, ext 1112
SCH Academy Receives $500,000 Gift for Engineering and Robotics
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy has received $500,000 from an anonymous donor in support of the school’s new Engineering and Robotics Department. The gift supports a new endowment called The Gizmo Fund, which will fund the purchase, maintenance, repair, and replacement of the equipment and technology used by engineering and robotics students throughout the school. The gift helps assure the sustainability of a young but rapidly growing signature program now serving all grade levels.
“The Engineering and Robotics Department is extremely grateful to the creators of The Gizmo Fund,” says department chair Peter Randall. “They have provided for the continued growth and enhancement of this vanguard, project-based learning program by enabling us to purchase the necessary materials and tools that will keep us current in a field where technologies advance rapidly,” explains Randall.
The Engineering and Robotics program allows students to explore their passions for design and building challenges that address complex, real-world problems. Two current student projects include a high-altitude balloon-launched glider that will gather atmospheric data for physics classes from over 100,000 feet and then fly itself home and a four-propeller self-stabilizing mini-helicopter with attached camera to video the school’s athletic competitions from the air. “Without the resources from The Gizmo Fund, our students wouldn’t have the state-of-the-art micro-chip technology and other materials necessary to build devices like the glider or quad copter,” Randall says.
The SCH Academy Engineering and Robotics Department grew out of a small after-school robotics activity started nine years ago. “The popularity of the program has grown exponentially as students have seen the creative real-world problem solving they can do through this program,” explains Randall. “Today, over one hundred kids are involved in our program, from 2nd grade to 12th grade, and we’re still growing.”
The school’s Upper School Vulcan Robotics Team 1218, is internationally recognized, having placed second and third in the 2004 and 2009 FIRST World Championships. Over the past two years, the team has won five design awards, including the General Motors Industrial Design Award. Students design and engineer in the school’s 1,600-square-foot dedicated lab and workspace housing state-of-the-art machinery, including a CNC milling machine that enables them to produce their own custom-made materials.