2012: The Media Lab began with a journey of six students, our first six research fellows. They walked into an old chemistry lab cluttered from storage and began to imagineer a space where meaningful projects would come to life.

We cleaned things up, started to paint the walls, plugged in computers, and got to work finding our passions!

One of the fellows, Eli Lishack, was passionate about film making. He partnered with Susan Howard from the Pittsburgh Filmmakers to make a documentary about the beginning of the Media Lab (see above). Eli learned fundamental lessons that have continued in the media lab – the importance of good storytelling, meaningful images, patient editing, and the importance of music.

Another student, Kate Houy, loved snakes and wanted to learn a new skill, sculpting in a variety of mediums. She learned numerous new techniques and created a beautiful display, auctioning them off to raise money for the Pittsburgh Zoo. She, too, discovered lessons that became a permanent part of the media lab: the pursuit of new skills, the love of wildlife, and the donation of any money earned to charity. Kate’s project help sculpt the primacy of scientific inquiry in the Media Lab. The artistry of creating sculptures was secondary to the research and scientific accuracy of the subjects she was sculpting, snakes!

Kate wasn’t the only one who learned to put science first.  Izzy was our first author, partnered with the Cheryl Bonnes of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency.  Her story of a girl and a dolphin was creatively adapted to reflect the conservation efforts of NOAA’s Dolphin Smart program. Dolly the Dophin went from a romantic story of a girl riding atop a dolphin in sparkle lakes and became an adventure to rescue wild dolphins hurt by an oil spill in which the girl was smart enough not to touch or ride on the wild dolphins. 

Skylar loved to dance. She also loved robots, collaboration, a little bit of ridiculousness, and bring together a team. She did all that to film The Dance of the Robots. Skylar became the foundation of our afterschool and weekend clubs. We now have eight, including robotics and, another one she started at the school, the Baden Academy Chess Club.

Owen longed to make math education challenging and fun. He worked with mentor Aileen Owens from South Fayette High School to develop a Scratch Game for 1st graders to work with addition and subtraction equations. He began two great traditions. The first of research fellows working with classrooms and teachers to bring lessons and activities to our younger grades. The second of using game design and programming to solve real world problems.

Ava started a tradition in our school, the robot invasion.  Partnered with Russel Dwyer of RoPro Design, Ava programmed six robots to coast into classrooms to entertain, then to teach. She was our first fellow to be interviewed by the press. 

These six original fellows rooted our current media lab in the many branches students today choose from as they become research fellows in the Baden Academy Media Lab. From these six amazing young kids rose our core values!

1. Innovation
Imagineering a more beautiful world with meaningful projects solving real-world problems.

2. Critical Thinking
Seeking credible articulations of truth, putting science first, and using art to help communicate effectively.

3. Collaboration
Partnering with our school, our community, and mentors around the globe in ways unify goals and promote cooperation and collective success.

4. Resilience
Taking risks, adapting to stress, and overcoming the unexpected as we trust that the walls we face are surmountable.

5. Self-Awareness
Developing a growth mindset and celebrating failures as learning opportunities while graciously accepting constructive feedback.

6. Leadership
Cultivating servant leadership habits and behaviors that seek to abilify the gifts of others.

7. Vision
Questing for a worthy legacy.

These six embodied our mission and values and gave them form! Thank you.