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Saint Ignatius High School

New Technology Advances Visual Arts

With the recent addition of a 3D ceramic printer, Fine Arts teacher Jon Jarc '93 is advancing innovation in the Saint Ignatius MakerSpace. Read what happens when technology, fine arts, math and science collide.
It seems like divine intervention that when the MakerSpace was created at Saint Ignatius High School in 2016 it’s location was the math wing of the Main Building. Not only do the projects in the MakerSpace incorporate art and technology, but also math and science.
 
Fine arts teacher Jon Jarc ’93 raves about the space’s new 3D Potter machine, lovingly referred to by his students as “Harry Potterbot.” This 3D ceramic printer uses real clay to design sculptural or functional pottery. Students enter a formula into a computer program based on a design they have created and watch as the 3D printer constructs a masterpiece. The technology is definitely something new and innovative at Saint Ignatius, yet Jarc talks just as much about the crossover and collaboration with other teachers and courses across the school’s curriculum.
 
Jarc and his students have worked with math teacher Cindy Reagan and the extracurricular Math Club on projects. They have collaborated with Andrew Johnson and his math elective courses for Java computer programming. His students design pieces and then use the skills they learned in Joe Buzzelli’s Rhetorical Arts and Public Speaking courses to showcase their masterpieces. And with the latest addition of “Harry Potterbot,” Jarc marries the traditional art of clay and sculpture, as taught by fine arts teacher Pat Kyle, with high-tech resources for a mixed media approach to visual arts.
 
In this cross section between technology and traditional arts, Jarc uses the term design-thinking to explain the process of learning through 3D printing. “First you empathize, then you define the problem, come up with innovative solutions to the problem, create a prototype, test it and then collect feedback.” Not unlike the Ignatian Pedagogy of Jesuit education, this approach encourages a holistic way of thinking. Students become problem-solvers and are encouraged to think like engineers to solve the problem at hand.
 
“The MakerSpace creates a home for our students. This is a space for the doers, creators, future business owners and entrepreneurs,” says Jarc.
 
Students are in the MakerSpace all day long. During any given free period four or more students can be found in the MakerSpace working on a passion project or trying to discover a new way of approaching a problem.
 
As Jarc has said, “We want to help grow the culture of creativity, to get kids pumped and create a buzz. The interest level will drive what we do next.”
 
With a total of 3,500 jobs completed already since August, it seems the interest level is high. We can’t wait to see what’s next.