Castilleja School is a private independent girl’s school located in Palo Alto, California. It is set on a beautiful campus and we arrived during the summer program so whilst there wasn’t anyone in classes, there was a warm welcoming and genuine feel about the place. The high achieving school offers its students the best in all aspects of student life. They describe their school as being “Intellectual Utopia”.

After a quick tour of the campus we were fortunate to visit the Bourn Idea Lab and speaking with its Director, Angi Chau. This quickly became the highlight of my trip. The Bourne Idea Lab is the schools maker space and there was so much to take from this visit.


Angi is an engineer/teacher who decided on a career change and is an amazingly passionate, inspiring and most humble teacher you would ever meet. Having someone like that at the helm, you can see why teachers want to work with her.

From the physical workspace, the lab is a colourful, vibrant and engaging. Words don’t do it justice so here is a video walk through with Angi.

What you won’t see is class sets of 3D printers, just a space with access to every type of tool and resource a student needs to be creative. From paper, to electronics, robotics, wood and metal machinery, 3d Printer and laser cutter, to a sewing machine…. It looked like such an inviting space and careful planning helped create a space that felt welcoming and engaging for the girls at Castilleja.

Angi talked about a ‘Resident Tinkerer’ contributing to the success of the program. They had managed to find local engineers that could assist with some projects or throw their expertise in refining a class activity. An example we heard was the science teacher who wanted the students to learn about microscopes. This was a 6 period project however the ‘tinkerer’ created a kit that allowed students to build a microscope and play with focal lengths and allow this to fit into one period.

The Bourne Idea Lab would be an amazing place to spend some time when students are in action.

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