Remade lab will allow new ways of learning
Lakeridge Junior High School's Parent Club has unanimously approved an ambitious proposal to transform the school's current robotics lab into a multi-use "Seeing/Making/Doing Space" that can be used by teachers in all subjects to enhance their lessons.
"The goal is to create a flexible learning space in the current building that contains the tools needed for students to have a multifaceted approach to any topic they are studying," said LJH Parent Club Co-President Janell Herman.
Every year, Herman said, the Parent Club works with Principal Kurt Schultz and his leadership team to develop a wish list that prioritizes where the club's fundraising dollars will be directed. This year, she said, the focus will be on a "Seeing/Making/Doing Space" that will "set the standard for the creation of learning spaces."
"The idea for the space arose from a collaboration between the Parent Club and innovative teachers engaged in advancing our school's vision of what it can mean to learn together with our students," Schultz said. "They are committed to helping us all become even more effective in our work together."
The project will be funded by proceeds from LJH's Oktoberfest School Auction, which took place on Oct. 21. More than $65,000 was raised that night, and the Parent Club added an additional $9,000 from other fundraising projects to bring the total to $74,000.
The "Seeing/Making/Doing Space" will introduce students to new ways of learning, according to Herman. Examples include having music classes videoconference with a composer to see how and where they work, Social Studies classes take a virtual reality field trip to the pyramids or PE classes use the green screen to visualize the muscle groups they are studying.
"One of the challenges with the current space is it's really static," Schultz said of the room known as Lab 2. "We have to reserve the whole thing for robotics."
After the space is remodeled, however, equipment will be more modern and portable, so that it can be used in different classrooms.
The proposal's budget includes iPads, touchscreen Chromebooks, a green screen wall with studio lighting and movable whiteboard tables, as well as virtual reality technology. The new space will allow students to "come in, explore ideas, create things and do things that they can't do in a static classroom," Schultz said.
Schultz said that Lakeridge Junior High is not the first school in Oregon to experiment with modernized, flexible classrooms. "Many schools across Oregon and the nation are learning about the potential of flexible learning spaces," he said.
Schultz said he also believes that the new space will help in the process of redesigning and rebuilding LJH with funds from a school bond passed by voters in May.
"One exciting aspect of creating a 'Seeing, Making, Doing Space' right now is that our current students will be able to benefit from it and help us learn about ways to use potential new and flexible learning environments that we may be able to incorporate into a new building for our future students," he said. "This redesigned use of Lab 2 will help us put some of those ideas into practice even as we design the next building we'll work in."