When we set out to overhaul our two science laboratories, one was in grades 5-6 and the other was in grades 7-8. We reworked our plan for the look and feel of a typical laboratory. We want a truly fascinating space where students are interested and excited about laboratory science.
We went to work. We updated the existing footprint with movable walls, comfortable seats and device chargers. The final result is far from the previous laboratory with a history of 20 years. This is what we learned in the process.
It is easy to replace tables, chairs, floors and air jets, and then call it a laboratory transformation, but we don't want to replace the existing space with more of the same space. Instead, we focus on building a future-oriented classroom for students.
We want students to think like Google or Apple engineers, scientists and collaborative teams. We ask ourselves some questions, such as: What is real learning like? What skills do our students need to know in the future? Moreover, how do we incorporate the 3Cs of collaboration, creativity and communication? Therefore, where traditional laboratories are more personalized and can collect data and report, all we want children to do is observe how science really works in a collaborative manner.
We installed movable walls, made full use of natural light, and worked with school furniture provider MiEN to propose an interior design that fits our core mission. One of the first things to do is the uncomfortable metal chair found in most scientific laboratories. We want students to sit down and collaborate comfortably. When you go to places like Starbucks or another cool cafe, many people are here to do their best. We want to imitate that atmosphere.
Together with our design partners, we are able to implement some new innovative concepts to support modern learning and collaboration. Some of these concepts include bar tables where students can gather; comfortable chairs that can move and swing; and comfortable sofas. As a one-to-one school, students can use iPads or Chromebooks, and we also provide sockets for charging devices and writing space at every site throughout the lab.
Be particularly clear about what your budget is and not allow it to increase. Keep your partners ahead; tell them how much you can spend, and ask them not to give you things that look down on you (this will only waste everyone's time). Finally, we must have a vision. Without these, you will never reach the desired location.
During the Industrial Revolution, most schools were set up for learning. It's time to make these spaces up to date. This is important, because today’s students learn differently from their predecessors. Therefore, where children still need to write books, hold books and participate in other traditional classroom activities, they also need flexible and creative spaces to learn. This is the premise for us to establish a new laboratory, and it has worked well so far.
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