Austin Trinity

An independent K-8 Episcopal day school five miles from the heart of Austin



DesignFest 2018

Space Exploration: Learning About Life on Earth by Looking Outwards

DesignFest is a multi-part school-wide learning spectacular, harnessing a design-thinking framework to create innovative solutions to challenges all around us. The DesignFest 2018 theme is “Space Exploration: Learning About Life on Earth by Looking Outwards.” As its name suggests, students will study human excursions into space and the science behind their adventures. Trinity DesignFest is planned by our Lower and Middle School STEAM teachers (science, technology, engineering, art and math) but executed by all teachers and staff in a truly community-wide learning spectacular. Creativity and the excitement of new ideas-in-the-making vibrate through the halls on March 9, and you won’t want your child to miss it.

Previous DesignFest themes include the following:

  • 2015: Arcade Games 
  • 2016: Make a Joyful Noise
  • 2017: Design: Play!



In preparation for DesignFest, 4th and 5th grade gathered on the athletic field to launch a weather balloon equipped with experiments and cameras. The balloon rose 22 miles—near the upper limits of the stratosphere—and drifted 111 miles to the southeast before landing in a cow pasture in Bellville, Texas.

How to Volunteer

Please email if you are interested in volunteering in either of our D-Lab "fabrication stations" or in another capacity. Please let us know your interests and available times and we will match you where you're most needed.  

Event Details

Grade-Level Challenges

K - Terrestrial Chick Habitats, led by Colleen Tierney and Christy Fennewald. See challenge details.
1- Closed Loop Systems, led by Bill Earley. How might we design a closed terrarium system that recycles air, water, and waste? See challenge details.
2 - Rockets, led by Bill Earley. How might we design a rocket to bring supplies to the International Space Station? See challenge details
3 - Space Suits, led by Flavia Gaskin. How might we design and prototype Extravehicular Mobility Unit (aka space suit) that support future astronaut missions? Designs will be based on evidence gathered from temperature and materials strength tests as well as student creativity. 
4 - Life and Work on the ISS: Mobility Inside the Spacecraft, Space Walks, and Exercise, led by Flavia Gaskin and Inquiry Seminar Teachers.
5 - Rovers, led by Adrian Carrales. 
6 - Topography, led by Jean Davis. How might we map the surface of Mars? See challenge details.
7 - Human Health in Space, led by Sarah Horan:  How might we keep long term space travelers healthy? See challenge details.
8 - Trinity on Mars, led by Laura Robinette. How might we feed and power our community on Mars in 2032? See challenge details and Mars Missions slideshow.


Feb. 27 - Lower School Pre-Fest (see station rotations

Mar. 5 - 50 minutes per Connections Day schedule. Design process begins in the classrooms with background research and empathy-building.

Mar. 7 - 50 minutes per Connections Day schedule. Design process continues with sketching ideas. 4th and 5th grade launch weather balloon into stratosphere to collect temperature data and aerial photography.

Mar. 9  - Culminating day of building and celebration. Special guest, NASA Astronaut Greg Johnson, will speak at 8:30 with all K-8 students about life in space and 4th-8th graders will have an extended question-asking session. He will tour the campus between 9:30-11:00 to witness designs being constructed in classrooms.  (Full day) 

Event Poster

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