We opened our new SmartLab this week! This summer, thanks to the amazing generosity of the South Park PTO, we built a new lab for students that will focus on the concepts of STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math. The lab is located just off the library, and it consists of four peninsulas with three brand new iMac computers at each one. There also is a teacher station connected to a huge flat screen TV for instruction and demonstration. In addition, the lab is filled with tools for teaching engineering, math, and science.
The SmartLab is a hands on, project based, self-directed learning environment. It is not a computer classroom. The skills students will learn in there will help them in all areas of their lives, and this will enhance their learning in all of the subject areas in school. These are the life skills taught and reinforced in the SmartLab.
- problem solving
In addition, the SmartLab designers built in other life skills that mirror the South Park Penguin Principles of respect, responsibility, helpfulness, and safety. Students will be expected to follow all of these while working in pairs in the SmartLab.
As students work through the learning journeys, they will see that each of the activities will involve three stages:
- The THINK Stage – Explore Materials, Brainstorm Ideas, Start to Plot Your Plan
- The MAKE Stage – See Your Creations Come to Life, Spend the Majority of Your Time Here, Build and Build Some More
- The IMPROVE Stage – Improve Your Design, Find Ways to Make it Better
There are eight different STEAM learning journeys that the students will work through during this year and during subsequent years. They are:
- Digital Communications with Comic Life and Animation-ish
- Mechanics & Structures with Knex
- Digital Communication with Pixie
- Robotics with Lego WeDo
- Circuitry with Snap Circuits
- Scientific Data and Analysis with Google Maps
- Mechanics and Structures with Zome tools
- Software Engineering with Scratch
Finally, all third, fourth, and fifth graders have been scheduled to work in the SmartLab all year on a rotating schedule. Each student will experience a minimum of 30 40-minute lessons in the SmartLab. I have posted a few pictures of the lab on the South Park Facebook page. We are very excited about this new learning opportunity for our students!