Innovation * Design * Engineering * Art

Who says girls can't play with power tools?

In today's world, creativity is the largest source of commerce. Everybody's looking for ways to make things new -- different, faster, smarter, smaller, bigger, more economical, more purposeful, sleeker, cooler, you name it -- the list goes on. The Makers Movement has been so readily and enthusiastically embraced because it just makes sense. As everyday citizens, we now have relatively easy access to the tools and the technology to quite literally improve people's lives in ways that were unimaginable only a few years ago.

In 1993, Susan Kettering Williamson '55 established an innovative woodworking and engineering laboratory for Hathaway Brown's Primary School students. A year later, Sally Stecher Hollington '50 made it possible to expand this forward-leaning classroom to accommodate Middle and Upper School students as well. Recognizing the potential breakthroughs students could make through the addition of more advanced technology, in 2015 HB parents Michelle Shan-Jeschelnig and Richard Jeschelnig supported the reimagination of the laboratory now used by girls in Grades K-12. The space will be outfitted with the latest software, hardware, and fabrication tools. In this new IDEA Lab, students will be inspired to tinker and create with limitless boundaries. If they can dream it, they can build it. 


Why do we need an IDEA Lab at HB?

Experts tell us that when they're not encouraged and supported, girls as young as 8 years old begin to lose their interest in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. HB's new IDEA Lab will help us to bolster students' confidence, improve their spatial skills, and produce important and meaningful work.

Who will benefit from this improvement on campus?

Hathaway Brown's goal for the IDEA Lab is to spark innovative thinking across all disciplines and grade levels, allowing students to imagine, design, and build. The lab will bring together design, technology, and engineering curricula while developing students' problem-solving and spatial skills. We are confident that this type of exposure may encourage and inspire girls to consider careers in science and engineering.

Where will the IDEA Lab be located?

For easy access by all the members of the HB community, the IDEA Lab will be housed in the original woodworking/invention lab space in the lowest level of the Primary School building, next to the current Large Muscle Room.

What sorts of equipment and technology will the IDEA Lab contain?

HB's IDEA Lab will be equipped with the latest software, hardware, and fabrication tools. The space will feature 2D and 3D computer-controlled machines, including 3D printers, a laser cutter, a mill, a router, and more. The room that will house the lab is being redesigned to accommodate all of this equipment and to create a cohesive, safe, and natural learning environment.

Who will oversee the IDEA Lab?

We are pleased to welcome Leah Ridgeway Jackson, a member of the Hathaway Brown class of 1999, back to her alma mater as Director of the IDEA Lab. 

Leah earned a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering with a minor in business from Northwestern University and an MBA with a management concentration from Cleveland State University. Since 2003, she has been employed by Johnson Controls, where she was an Energy Solutions Development Engineer, a Lead Systems Operations Specialist, and a Construction Sales Engineer. She brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to the position and she looks forward to "exposing HB girls to powerful and innovative ideas, thus producing constructive, creative, and confident thinkers."

Leah is a member of HB's Head's Council, and she has been a regular judge for HB's eighth-grade science fair. She also has spoken with the members of the Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society about what they might expect in pursuing careers in STEM fields. Of the IDEA Lab, Leah says, "I see this space as a hub for creativity and ingenuity; a place to expose the girls, at all age levels, to the passion and satisfaction that come from creating and building something themselves."

What is the construction timeline for this project?

School administrators worked throughout the early summer months to obtain building permits and blueprints for the space. Initial construction began on the project in late July 2015. The space is expected to be fully complete by late fall.

IDEA Lab Photos

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Construction - September 22, 2015

Shaker Heights, Ohio Girls K-12 Coed Early Childhood

19600 North Park Boulevard Shaker Heights, Ohio 44122 P: 216.932.4214
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