On Tuesday, December 10, 2019 Oakland, New Jersey Public Schools celebrated the ribbon cutting for its new Elementary School STEAM Lab. Students, teachers, and town and school officials were all in attendance, along with staff from project architect and engineer LAN Associates (LAN). The new facility was built to further student interest in the STEAM curriculum and to provide new opportunities for course methodologies for district students. It is one of the first upgrades in the district that promotes the STEAM curriculum and the learn by doing educational philosophy.
“The STEAM Lab provides hands-on, creative ways to encourage students to design, experiment, build and invent,” said Dr. Gina M. Coffaro, Superintendent of Schools. “This initiative focuses on overall student academic wellness through STEAM learning. Students will be engaged in interdisciplinary units of study that invoke an energized approach to learning.”
The Oakland Education Foundation as well as the Oakland PTOs provided generous donations and support for the project and LAN was hired to transform the 1,500 square foot space, previously in use as administrative offices. The new modern STEAM Lab is designed to encourage flexibility, student choice, and innovation.
On one side of the room, a full height whiteboard wall invites teachers and students to sketch ideas while following the engineering design loop. On the opposite side of the room, a vertical LEGO wall allows students to explore three-dimensional building in a unique way.
In the center of the room, rearrangeable furniture allows groups of students to collaborate and work on early prototypes of designs. With overhead cord reels highlighted by a series of colorful clouds, students are able to plug in devices and tools throughout the space. Finally, a “solo build” countertop with glazing into the corridor allows students outside the room a glimpse into the inventive space to pique interests in the variety of work occurring inside.
“It was a pleasure to work alongside Oakland Public Schools as they continue to advance learning environments through our combined efforts,” said LAN Architect Matthew Fink who served as project manager and lead architect on the project. “LAN created a space that demonstrates authentic learning can come in a variety of forms and students can collaborate and engage in a multitude of settings.”
A second open house of the new space will take place on Thursday January 9, 2020, during Parent University Night. A team-based STEAM activity will be linked to that event. LAN will attend this second event to talk about design concept of the space.