Bringing ideas to life is what sets St. Gabriel’s Catholic School education apart. St. Gabriel’s offers instruction that integrates STEAM by design and innovative learning into all aspects of the curriculum, from Pre-K through 8th grade. Students create and collaborate in the d.lab for Making, which allows for hands-on and open-ended learning. Utilizing a variety of tools such as sewing, woodworking, modeling and fabrication, 3D printing, vinyl and laser cutting, as well as many low-tech and high-tech creativity platforms, our students are able to invent and manifest new ideas that solve real world problems based on their academic studies.

Design thinking and the Maker mindset are integrated into the St. Gabriel’s classroom curriculum with authentic and meaningful connections. Additionally, students across all grade levels engage in Project-Based Learning with their teachers. 

For example, students in St. Gabriel’s 7th grade English Language Arts read about the impact of social media on youth and wrote a research paper. Assignments of this structure are likely common across most schools. However, at St. Gabriel’s, the students took their classroom learning and applied it to personally-driven projects showcasing how social media can impact teens. Students designed graphics in Adobe Illustrator, filmed and edited video interviews, learned how to use a saw for the first time, and even created a pop-up art show displaying a small room full of balloons with a manipulative text message example written on each one and then popping them.

In St. Gabriel’s Lower School, 1st graders engaged in a cross-curricular project about habitats. They researched a specific habitat (mountain, beach, forest) and the animals that live there, selected specific animals and constructed them, customized a papier-mâché version of their environment with our Director of STEAM, created their own visual habitat, and presented it to their peers and teachers. This was impressive work at this early grade level.

In addition to the work students complete in the d.Lab and their classroom projects, they engage in innovative learning with coding and robotics.

Utilizing developmentally-appropriate, innovative pedagogy, our students exercise creativity in coding starting in Pre-K 4, that serves as application of their grade-level mathematical concepts. These skills are advanced each year as they progress through math, coupled with coding at St. Gabriel’s. 

Starting in 2nd grade at St. Gabriel’s, our students apply their computational thinking, risk-taking, and collaborative problem solving as they begin elementary-level programming of robotics, which moves into a competitive robotics program in grades 3-6 with the Wonder League Robotics Competition, a global competition using the Dash robot. 

The measures not only apply future-ready skills but also create global learning opportunities for collaboration and design thinking for all St. Gabriel’s students.

In 7th and 8th grade, St. Gabriel’s students have an opportunity to apply for a competitive robotics program, which participates in competitions at a high-school level. This program is about much more than building robots. Guided by adult coaches and mentors, students develop STEAM skills and practice engineering principles, while realizing the value of hard work, innovation, and working as a team.

All of this innovative learning is completed within a faith-based framework and an environment with social-emotional learning that allows our children to grow into collaborative global-citizens. At St. Gabriel’s students are prepared for what lies ahead of them as they learn, work, and live with Integrity, Caring, and Excellence.

Lauren Wiatrek
Lauren Wiatrek is a native Austinite that after moving to New York and Colorado, decided her heart was in the center of Texas. Her husband, Evan helped build their family of daughters in a home they love. After battling stage 3 breast cancer in 2017 Lauren has become a strong voice for wellness, health advocacy, and her faith. Lauren loves to travel every chance she can get. Lauren enjoys extra hot coffee on the porch, her F45 workouts, Young Living lifestyle, being all things as a #girlmom and helping empower women. Lauren started her journey with cancer on her blog you can also follow her on her Instagram: @lauren.wiatrek for motherhood tips and her wellness journey after cancer.


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