The world is rapidly changing. Together, girls can shape what that world looks like.

Changemakers Lab is a summer institute that brings together girls entering grades 5–10 to collaborate on interdisciplinary real-world projects in an exploratory space. Over the course of the summer, girls will roll up their sleeves, get messy, and think creatively as they work to bring about positive change and explore topics such as the arts, ecology, STEM, and more.

How It Works

Five different Labs are offered throughout the summer. Each Lab focuses on a specific project and runs Monday through Friday for either one or two weeks. Please note that by registering for one Lab, participants are committing to all days of that Lab. Participants can register for any number of Labs. Each Lab consists of three core elements that will guide participants through the collaborative project:

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  • Changemaking

    Changemaking is a process that emerges from a need to solve an urgent problem and requires collaboration, communication, and connection.

    This element will address four essential questions: What and who is a changemaker? When does change need to happen and why? What kind of change is possible? How do we create change together?
  • Projects

    Each Lab offers an opportunity to explore one hands-on, real-world avenue for shaping the world we live in. Each project will challenge participants to utilize the steps of the design-thinking process as they work together to come up with an innovative real-world solution: research and exploration; reflection and processing; planning and design; implementation; closing reflection and sharing.
  • Exploration

    The Lab begins with an exploration of the interconnection between ourselves, others, and the community. Participants will start by looking inward to identify their unique passions, skills, and values. Exploration will then expand outward into the group and then the community.

    Through thoughtful observation, applied empathy, critical thinking, and engaged learning, participants will build friendships as they define their shared purpose of changemaking.

Menu

Why Mixed Ages: Mentorship Matters

Role models and mentors help support girls as they shift their perceptions about leadership and tap into their potential as leaders. Changemakers Lab intentionally brings together teams of mixed-age girls to collaborate within an environment representative of the diversity of experiences, skills, abilities, and perspectives naturally found in the real world. This mixed age group is meant to provide younger girls with an opportunity to learn alongside older teen girls who model what female leadership can look like. When girls have models of success, they thrive.

Community Partners

Each Lab will be enriched by the guidance and insight of community partners. Local community organizations will offer their leadership in their area of expertise by teaching a technical skill, introducing project-specific materials and concepts, and/or leading relevant discussions.
An off-site excursion into the community will be part of each Lab. Participants will engage in activities guided by our community partners and the Changemakers Lab lead instructor. Efforts will be made to provide transportation for students from Ellis to the excursion sites and back; however, families may be required to drop off at 9:00 a.m. and pick up at 3:00 p.m. at the excursion site. Registrants will be provided with additional details about plans for off-site excursions ahead of the start of each Lab.

2024 Labs

Expression Across the Arts *WAITLIST ONLY*

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  • Details

    *SOLD OUT* Waitlist spots are available
    Dates:
    June 10–14, 2024
    Schedule: Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
    Cost: $450
    Instructor: Peter Barbor, Ellis Visual Arts Teacher
  • Lab Description

    How can young artists express their voices through a variety of mediums? What is the process behind organizing a cohesive exhibit and framing its message? Participants will explore these questions in this studio-focused Lab through working with materials ranging from clay to mixed media. They will spend the week exploring, creating, and eventually presenting their creations in a camper-curated show.

    Visiting artists and an off-site excursion will give participants a behind-the-scenes look at the methods of local artists and arts organizations. After examining how practicing artists make and display their work, participants will craft reflective pieces using a multitude of mediums. Changemakers will fully explore how personal expression and meaning-making foster and forge community. While no previous arts experience is required, a love for materials, experimentation, and process is strongly encouraged.

    *Please note that there will be an evening exhibition on the last day of this Lab.
  • Lab Excursion & Community Partners

    To Be Announced Soon!

Wildlife Conservation Explorers

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  • Details

    Dates: June 24–28, 2024
    Schedule: Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
    Cost: $450
    Instructor: Jackie Dame, Ellis STEM Teacher
  • Lab Description

    Prepare to embark on a journey into the world of biodiversity, conservation, and animal welfare in this brand new Changemakers Lab! Participants will transform into conservation scientists, each choosing an animal from the endangered species list to “adopt” and use as their lens to investigate current topics and challenges in wildlife stewardship. They will dive headfirst into captivating case studies that unravel the mysteries of how some species claw their way back from the brink of extinction and some do not. Changemakers will learn about the roles of keystone and invasive species and how they shape the ecosystems they inhabit and their implications for our planet's biodiversity. This Lab will wrap up with the creation of a one-of-a-kind showcase for each chosen animal, its habitat, and the crucial steps we can take to help it thrive once again.
  • Lab Excursion & Community Partners

    To Be Announced Soon!

Performance by Design

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  • Details

    Dates: July 8–19, 2024
    Schedule: Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
    Cost: $900
    Instructor: Heidi Murr (Choreographer) and Sara Sturdevant (Ellis Visual and Performing Arts Teacher)
  • Lab Description

    What can creating an original performance teach us about teamwork, compromise, and problem solving? In this Lab, participants will create a theatrical production while exploring these questions and developing performance skills in a creative, collaborative, and design-centered environment. All participants will be encouraged to have a hand in all facets of the production and will cultivate technical skills in acting, vocal music, movement, set design, and playwriting.

    The collaborative setting of this Lab allows participants to understand their strengths as communicators and changemakers as they work together to design, produce, and realize a 30-minute performance. The final performance will take place in the evening on the final day of camp. Prior experience with theater performances or a strong interest in diving deeply into this topic through a two-week immersive experience is highly encouraged. Passionate and enthusiastic newcomers are welcome! 

    Please note: This Changemakers Lab runs through 4:00 p.m. each day. There will be an evening performance on the last day of this Changemakers Lab.
  • Lab Excursion & Community Partners

    To Be Announced Soon!

Engineer the Future: Robotics

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  • Details

    Dates: July 22–26, 2024
    Schedule: Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
    Cost: $450
    Instructor: Sam Rauhala, Ellis Science Teacher
  • Lab Description

    Join our Engineer the Future: Robotics Lab to find innovative solutions to puzzling challenges through teamwork, a curiosity for investigating possibilities, and the engineering design process. Tomorrow's changemakers will be required to think outside the box and use tools and technology to engage in creative problem solving. Participants in this Lab will use coding and tools such as Hummingbird robotics kits, CAD, and 3D printing to prototype a unique solution to a human-centered design challenge. Participants will also investigate how design thinking and connecting with the community paves the way for creating a lasting impact.
  • Lab Excursion & Community Partners

    To Be Announced Soon!

Unplugged Game Design

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  • Details

    Dates: July 29–August 2, 2024
    Schedule: Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
    Cost: $450
    Instructor: Sam Rauhala, Ellis Science Teacher
  • Lab Description

    Embark on a journey of creativity and strategy in our brand new Changemakers Lab. Participants will discover how the art of game design—in the form of board games, card games, and more—can become a gateway to the realms of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) while exploring game styles including cooperative games, deckbuilders, eurogames, and legacy games. Changemakers will incorporate storytelling and artistic design, build their understanding of probabilities and problem-solving, and hone their decision-making as they craft and play their own games. This collaborative hands-on Lab will use cutting-edge tools such as CAD and 3D printing in a blend of creativity, critical thinking, and fun.
  • Lab Excursion & Community Partners

    To Be Announced Soon!

Register for Changemakers Lab

Interested in registering for any of the Labs listed above?
Fill out the form below to get started!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who can be a part of this program?

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    Changemakers Lab welcomes girls entering grades 5 through 10.

Q: Where do the Labs take place? How will excursions work?

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    All Labs will take place on The Ellis School's campus, located in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Directions and a campus map can be found here.

    Efforts will be made to provide transportation for students from Ellis to the excursion sites and back; however, families may be required to drop off at 9:00 a.m. and pick up at 3:00 p.m. at the excursion site.

    All excursions will take place within the local Pittsburgh community. Registrants will be provided with additional details about plans for off-site excursions ahead of the start of each Lab.

Q: What is a typical day like at the Changemakers Lab?

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    A typical day at the Changemakers Lab includes dynamic activities, conversations, and games designed to encourage relationship-building and foster changemaking skills in a fun, engaging environment. Each day will balance time to explore changemaking fundamentals and time to implement the community project. A typical daily schedule looks like:

    A.M.
    9:00 a.m. - Arrival
    Check-in
    Overview of day
    Morning snack
    Themed activities

    Lunch 

    P.M.
    Themed activities and project
    Clean up
    End-of-day closing and reflection
    3:00 p.m.* - Departure 

    *Please note that Performance By Design departure takes place at 4:00 p.m.

Q: What are the Lab hours and observed holidays?

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    • Lab Hours: Each Changemakers Lab program runs from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., with the exception of Performance by Design which takes place from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 
    • Lab Dates: Each Changemakers Lab program runs Monday through Friday over the course of one or two weeks.
    Please carefully review the dates and times listed for the Lab in which you are interested. If you have any questions about a Lab’s schedule, please contact summerprograms@istanbulclup.com.

Q: What should participants bring to the program each day?

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    • A nut-free snack
    • A nut-free lunch—Ellis is a nut-free campus.
      • Please notify us of any participant allergies.
      • Please note that refrigeration and microwaves are not available for packed lunches. 
    • A labeled water bottle
      • Hydration stations are available to refill water bottles!
    • A hat and sunscreen as needed for time spent outdoors

Q: How do I drop off and pick up?

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    All participants need to be checked in by a parent or guardian at the Lower School entrance as early as 8:15 a.m. with camp starting at 9:00 a.m.

    Changemakers Lab participants will wait to be picked up outside the entrance to the Ellis Lower School at 3:00 p.m. (with the exception of Performance By Design, where participants should be picked up at 4:00 p.m.). The front gate will be locked at all times to ensure the safety of everyone. No adults are allowed inside school buildings.

    If you have an older camper and would like them to check in and out of camp on their own, please contact summerprograms@istanbulclup.com to speak with the Director of Summer Programs about signing a self check-out form.

    If you are unable to pick up your Changemakers Lab participant by their designated dismissal time and are interested in after-care, please contact summerprograms@istanbulclup.com.

Q: How do I register for a Changemakers Lab program?

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    To register for any of the Changemakers Labs, fill out this form to get started. You will receive an email with the link you will need to complete your registration process. Participants are welcome to sign up for any number of Labs.

    Registration is only considered complete when full payment has been received.

Q: What medical and immunization forms are required?

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    • All campers will be required to complete the Summer Camp Health Form found within the Ellis Summer Camp registration form prior to attending camp. This will allow for more consistent and uniform health reporting across both Ellis and non-Ellis campers and faster access to information in the event of an emergency with all health data consolidated in one system for the summer.
    • Please note that we are prohibited by state law from allowing participants to remain on campus without medical and immunization information.

Q: Absences or transportation changes—what do I do?

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We encourage all parents/guardians to review our camp policies prior to registration.
If you have any questions, please reach out to us at summerprograms@istanbulclup.com.