Clairbourn School: Persist + Adapt = Succeed, A Growth Mindset!

Students at Clairbourn look forward to the Engineering Design Challenge every year where they work on their analytical creative, and problem-solving skills. Students in grades one through eight were given cardboard, foam tubing, craft sticks, index cards, chicken wire, and paper clips to design and construct a marble run that takes the longest and most predictable time for the dropped marble to complete the run.

Clairbourn School welcomed three engineers to discuss what engineering looks like in the real life. April Shewry is a civil engineer working for Lakeside Alliance on the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago, Illinois. Chance Casas is a senior network engineer at HRL Laboratories in Malibu. Russell Smith is in the Robotic Actuation and Sensing Group at JPL in La Canada Flintridge. The three guests discussed their careers, the skills required for their jobs, and how they use the engineering design process. They provided advice for the marble runs, such as the importance of a strong foundation, the effect of friction, and strategies for utilizing gravity.

Ms. Vinnedge, our Middle School science teacher, and Mr. Beaber, our innovation lab teacher, visited each class during the build time to support students in thinking through their approach to the challenge. When it came to planning their own engineering work for the marble run, the students sketched, discussed, brainstormed, and imagined outside the box. We saw a variety of design thinking, from a zig-zag pin ball machine to a roller coaster design.

A growth mindset occurs when a person is not afraid to try, test, or experiment. When one is not afraid to make mistakes and adjust, learning occurs. Our students view challenges as opportunities, celebrate others’ successes, and understand that growth is a process. It’s exciting to see our students develop this mindset and progress toward becoming scholars and leaders with heart!


Clairbourn School, 8400 Huntington Drive, San Gabriel, (626) 286-3108 or visit






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