Innovation Labs in Rock Hill: September 2021

TCFD’s Innovation Labs Now in Rock Hill
by Denise Sullivan

HURLEYVILLE, September 2021– With September upon us and Autumn right around the corner, the team at The Center for Discovery’s THINC (Technology Hub and Incubator) has a new name and a new location, but the same enthusiasm, creativity and innovative spirit.
Appropriately renamed the Innovation Labs at The Center for Discovery, Rock Hill is their new home, located in the bright, sprawling space of the second floor at the Children’s Specialty Hospital building.
There is plenty of room for both the American Portfolio Assistive Technology Lab and the Walter and Vera Scherr Design Lab, where clinicians, educators and other staff at TCFD can collaborate with designers and engineers to creatively solve problems.
Assistive technology for students at TCFD, like the tool grabber, the wrist talker and the Bluetooth switch interface were created at THINC and continue to undergo improvements at the Innovation Labs, under the guidance of Jason Kean, Director of Innovation and Mark McNamara, Design and Fabrication Coordinator. There’s also plenty of room for the production and editing of creative educational videos for TCFD staff and students in the digital media lab.
Julie Palmer, Project Coordinator, has been especially busy during the pandemic, filming and editing videos that are shared on the TCFD network. Her current projects include a self-advocacy video for new employees, filming Taft grant seminars, and a baseball showcase video that highlights newly learned baseball skills of students at the Ridge campus, a great project created by Bari Allor, a veteran recreation team member.
With the new school year starting soon, there is also room at the Innovation Labs for socially distanced learning and problem-solving activities for local school groups through the Sullivan BOCES “TEAMS Challenge” program. This volunteer afterschool program is open to all junior high and high school students and focuses on the development of project management, design thinking, collaboration and presentation.
Each school fields a team of up to 15 students who work together to devise solutions to authentic challenges. These challenges focus on improving an aspect of each team’s school, and often include learning design software and prototyping with 3-D printers or laser cutters. Members develop critical thinking, community involvement and partnerships, and participate in activities related to STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. The program culminates in a meet-up where teams present their solutions to each other and to a panel of local experts, who judge the competition using a performance rubric that awards points for each team’s solution, display and oral presentation.
The Fallsburg Maker’s Club is an after-school group that met weekly at THINC before the pandemic, and our team hopes to rekindle relationships and guide young makers once again from the Fallsburg Junior Senior High School through weekly creative projects during the upcoming school year. The club will meet in Hurleyville at the site of the Collaborative College High School, thanks to their school leader, Jack Comstock.
The Innovation Labs team is looking forward to new beginnings in Rock Hill, and picking up where we left off with new students from all around Sullivan County.