Providence unites character and wisdom with a lasting desire to learn. At the core is a faith that shapes children with joy, integrity, and compassion. Our students seek after the virtues of truth, beauty, and excellence — whether in the classroom, on the athletic court, or under the glow of stage lights.
At Providence, we foster unity and friendship through many activities, including: school retreats, Homecoming, the Philia Project, spirit days, school dances, talent shows, service trips, college tours, concerts, theater performances, and more. Many of these opportunities are conceived and planned by students themselves.
Parents enjoy community and volunteer opportunities through the Parent Association.
Alumni around the world keep in touch through the Alumni Association.
A variety of resources keep our community engaged:
Like most independent schools, Providence depends upon the support and goodwill of the communities it serves to strengthen its impact and effectiveness. Above all other opportunities to partner with the school, we invite the community to support the school’s mission, faculty, students, and families in prayer.
We’ve written on this blog about the completion, delivery, and feedback for PathPoint’s wheelchair computer desk, but what about the other project intended for Mrs. Jones? We’re glad to report that this project has now been constructed, assembled, and painted according to the student plans and delivered to a grateful 4th grade teacher!
Like all of our COVID-friendly projects this year, the design work was done by students: Alan, Davis, Eliana, Isaiah, Kaitlyn, Kassy, Sam, Zach, and Pedro. Their original concepts were submitted as sketches and miniature models back in October 2020.
Alan’s early LEGO concept (October 2020)
Mrs. Jones reviewed these concepts and filtered out the ones that were less suitable. The result of this, plus another online design charrette, was a series of simple sketches and a collaborative CAD model in Onshape, which can be accessed here.
The result of a design charrette in December 2020
The final collaborative CAD model emerges
Mr. Meadth acted as fabricator for this project, with Zach in 11th grade contributing a beautiful hand-finished red oak table surface. Angel, while not an actual member of this project, worked after school to attach caster wheels and paint according to Mrs. Jones’ requested color scheme.
The linear actuator motor, intended as a replacement for an
armchair recliner and capable of over 150 lb of force
The actuator is sandwiched between
two pieces of plywood
Zach’s table surface attached and
In retracted position
From the very beginning, these mechanical furniture designs needed to closely follow the advice given over two thousand years ago by the Roman architect, Vitruvius. Vitruvius was primarily concerned with buildings for home and public use, but his timeless principles seem to fit this project particularly well: firmitas, utilitas, venustas. Translated as “strength, utility, beauty”, this triad neatly underscores the challenges and requirements of Mrs. Jones’ desk.
Strength: Can a desk be put on wheels and still be stable and secure? How can you design a desk that changes its size and shape without risking damage to users and their property (like a laptop that slips off and smashes!)? When will a cantilever design be so audacious as to become a tipping hazard?
Utility: What features are necessary and useful for any teacher? How to incorporate a maximum amount of storage while allowing room for the electrical mechanism? What are the exact heights that Mrs. Jones requires for her sitting and standing? How much desk space is enough?
Beauty: How do you hide away the necessary mechanical equipment? What should be the focal point of this design to catch the eye? What color and trim will best fit a classroom and suit the client?
Carving out a shallow hole for the wooden handle
The wooden handle structure ready for installation
(note the dowels and holes)
A strap clamp to secure the handle while gluing
Angel attaches the caster wheels
The rubber stoppers are screwed into place after painting
With the door and shelving installed, this is ready for delivery!
In March 2021, after six months of work, it was finally time to deliver the finished product. With the help of Mr. Knoles, the Lower School Principal, Mr. Meadth surprised the entire class one morning with the desk delivery. Mrs. Jones was delighted to receive the desk, and promptly filled it with her hefty teacher editionsâ€”which definitely helped as a counterbalance to the cantilever design!
The crew proudly presents their product!
Mr. Meadth surprises Mrs. Jones with the
“So I just press here…?”
Loaded up and ready to go in 4th grade
This project shows us once again that engineers, mathematicians, scientists, and technologists are uniquely poised to love those around them. As we often discuss in the Providence Engineering Academy, it is only those with a particular type of training and set of skills who can turn good intentions into deliverable outcomes. To quote Christian philosopher Etienne Gilson, “piety is no substitute for technique.”
Thank you, Mrs. Jones for allowing us to partner with you in such an interesting project this year. It was an admirable test of the students’ skills as they sketched concepts, designed CAD models, collaborated interactively, calculated forces and moments, and put saw to wood. Well done to each student who contributedâ€”you are accomplishing great things.