Innovation Labs, Makerspaces, and Learning Commons

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Maker Education: Reaching All Learners video from the edutopia Schools that Work profile of Albemarle County Public Schools, Charlottesville, VA

Slideshow on right: We Make Makers! The new Innovation Labs, Makerspaces, and Learning Commons. You can play this slideshow full screen and see the videos of this presentation by clicking on the youtube or vimeo links, or by playing the Innovation Labs and Makerspaces Videos at the bottom of this page. Download the PPT here.

February 17, 2017: Making GREAT Makerspaces: The 7 Attributes of a GREAT Makerspace, by Laura Fleming
August 29, 2016: GHS Innovation Lab, Greenwich High School, Greenwich, CT. See new video from July, 2016.
May 12, 2016: Pine Crest School Innovation Institute, Maker Movement: A Constructionist Approach to Inspiring Innovation and STEAM Learning, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Thurs-Fri, June 9-10, 2016. Pre-Conference Workshops: Wednesday, June 8, 2016.
March 13, 2016: CTE Makeover Challenge from USDOE will award 10 schools $200K each to design and build makerspaces
December 11, 2015: How to Host a Maker Dine and Design Evening, blog from the Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation (MVIPI). See more about MVIFI below.
November 24, 2015: Excellent Makerspace Resource document from the Cape Elizabeth Middle School and Jonathan R. Werner
November 20, 2015: Great new Rise of MakerEd Infographic from Getting Smart and littleBits
October 16, 2015: FUSE 2016 conference: Design Thinking Experience, June 15-17, Atlanta, GA. Led by the Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation.
September 22, 2015: New edutopia video Maker Education in Albemarle County Public Schools. Also see web profile of Albemarle County Schools.
September 22, 2015: The Development and Growth of the Maker Movement in Sonoma County Schools K-12, special report
September 1, 2015: 4-week Fall 2015 Maker Workshop online course from School Library Journal starts 9/16. Register here, $80.
June 13, 2015: MakeSchools Higher Education Alliance: State of Making Report, June 2015. Explore 40 Higher Education Institutions.
June 2, 2015: Great new "How to Build Your Makerspace" Guide from edSurge
More New

April 9, 2014 - Several schools and school districts that I work with are showing great interest in the new Innovation Labs, Makerspaces, and Learning Commons arising in innovative 21st Century public and independent schools across the country. These new learning environments, sometimes a transformed library-media space, sometimes a centerpiece learning environment of a new STEM or STEAM program, go by many names - Innovation Labs, IDEA Labs, FabLabs, weCreate Centers, Learning Commons, etc. My colleague Chris Hazleton, from Fielding Nair International, calls them Curiosity Centers. These centers provide learning environments for students to work individually or collaboratively on entrepreneurial, STEM, STEAM, and Design Thinking projects. Each of these centers also provide programs and pedagogy that together with the new learning environments develop a culture of self-directed and self-assessing learners. On this page I have assembled information about the exemplar centers that I have learned about, for others to study. I will update this page continuously as new videos and other artifacts of these Innovation Labs and Makerspaces become available and I learn of new exemplars to add here. - Bob

            1. Shattuck-St. Mary's School weCREATE Center, Faribault, MN
            2. Innovation Lab @Ross School, East Hampton, NY
            3. The Nueva School - Innovation Lab, Hillsborough, CA
            4. Quest Academy Innovation Lab, Palatine, IL
            5. Cushing Academy Innovation Lab, Ashburnham, MA
            6. Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, Atlanta, GA
            7. Albemarle County Public Schools, Charlottesville, VA
            8. The Innovation Lab of Newton Public Schools, Newton, MA
            9. Thompson School District Innovation Lab, Loveland, CO
            10. Da Vinci High School Innovation Lab, Los Angeles, CA
            11. Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School (MICDS) STEM Center, St. Louis, MO
            12. MC² STEM High School FABLAB, Cleveland, Ohio
            13. Westtown Science Center, Westtown, PA
            14. Alain LeRoy Locke College Preparatory Academy, Los Angeles, CA
            15. Academy of the Holy Names Innovation Lab, Tampa, FL
            16. GHS Innovation Lab, Greenwich High School, Greenwich, CT
            17. Libraries and Learning Commons
            18. Other schools to watch -- Innovation Labs, Makerspaces, and Learning Commons
            19. Libraries and Learning Commons
            20. Resources for making Innovation Labs, Makerspaces, and Learning Commons

1. weCREATE Center, Shattuck-St. Mary's School, Faribault, MN

Shattuck-St. Mary's School

Faribault, MN

The weCREATE Center is a 2 story interior space that offers a cross-fertilization of creative skills for high school students at Shattuck-St. Mary's School. At the weCREATE Center there are no grades and no assignments, instead there are opportunities - see mission and philosophy below.




Articles & Videos

Note: The weCreate Center with its many studios and student work areas reminds people of the Montessori approach in the early grades. While not much present in the United States, Montessori High Schools were once widespread in Europe. My own son attended the Buck's Rock Performing and Creative Arts Camp (create express connect explore) in New Milford, CT. The camp featured an array of sheds/studios with experts in residence, much like the weCreate Center. Buck's Rock Camp was founded after WWII by Austrian refugees who had been Montessori High School teachers in Europe..- Bob

2. The Innovation Lab @Ross School, East Hampton, NY

Ross School

The Innovation Lab @Ross is an Academy for Entrepreneurship in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, Media, and Technology. Innovation Lab @Ross is an academy within Ross School that is designed for students who are passionate about science, mathematics, engineering, media, and technology. This stimulating and rigorous program enables students to conduct independent research and undertake self-directed learning in such fields as electronics, computer programming, marine science, and digital media.

EXPLORE, INQUIRE, ENGAGE: At Innovation Lab @Ross, students learn firsthand about the need for novel, interdisciplinary thinking in order to succeed in the global economy of the future. Whether building robots, designing machines, or collecting data in the field, Innovation Lab students develop essential engineering, design, and media skills as part of their individualized program of study. Combining these engineering and design skills with directed reading and independent research, students tackle independent projects of their own design. Students are also encouraged to study the commercial aspects of innovation and to approach their projects from an entrepreneurial angle.



Articles & Videos


3. The Innovation Lab, Nueva School, Hillsborough, CA

Hillsborough, CA

The success of Nueva School's I-Lab has inspired a more integrated design thinking-based design for their new high school, which is under construction.


Design Education at the Nueva School from LUNAR on Vimeo.

To see the Nueva Design Thinking Process, click on the chart.



Articles & Videos


4. The Innovation Lab, Quest Academy, Palatine, IL

Quest Academy
Grades PS-8

500 North Benton
Palatine, Illinois 60067

Quest Academy is reintroducing and expanding a new program designed to provide middle school students with a focused and integrated exploration of Engineering, Technology, Arts, and Digital Citizenship to supplement current offerings in Science and Math. This newly enhanced STEAM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Math) curriculum will provide new opportunities for learning and inquiry. Lower School students will use the Innovation Lab in their Technology and Art curriculum in addition to periodic technology-based learning in Math, Science and Language Arts.


Articles & Videos

Multi-faceted Refractions Blog: Thoughts and Reflections from Vinnie Vrotny, Director of Academic Technology at the Quest Academy, Palatine IL. This blog chronicles the vision, pedagogy, physical design, and implementation of the Innovation Lab.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.



5. The Innovation Lab, Cushing Academy, Ashburnham, MA

Ashburnham, MA

When Cushing Academy replaced traditional books with e-books in 2009, the media story focused on the removal of books instead of the creation of a Learning Commons/Innovation Lab for students and teachers. Fisher-Watkins Library is a library Transformed. It is now the most-used space on campus; it has become a hub where students and faculty gather, learn, and explore together. Highlights of this dynamic, interactive learning center include:


Click here for larger version of the 21C Skills Wheel


Articles & Videos


6. The I.Design Lab, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, Atlanta, GA

Launched in 2010, Mount Vernon's Center for Design Thinking focuses on human-centered problem solving with an emphasis on collaboration, creativity, and empathy. Students engage in the D.E.E.P. process--Discover, Empathize, Experiment, Produce--a methodology aligned with Stanford University's Institute of Design. Mount Vernon students identify real world issues, collaborate through research, test their results, and produce prototypes to impact the world.


Mount Vernon: Accelerating Innovation : HMW (How Might We) innovate school to meet real world demands? from Mount Vernon on Vimeo:


Articles & Videos

>Go To Innovation Labs Page 2

More New:

April 14, 2015: Unique, Ongoing Projects Sustain Newton North’s Greengineering Program, blog profile from the Greenwich High School Innovation Lab
January 22, 2015: Northen Kentucky Kids make a Makerspace. Video. Story 1. Story 2. NKY Makerspace on Facebook.
January 22, 2015: Gary Stager's Invent to Learn Maker Lab shopping list for elementary schools. Spreadsheet-PDF. Spreadsheet-Excel.
December 1, 2014: Designing Classrooms & Schools for 21st Century Learners, Blog by Bob Pearlman, Partnership for 21st Century Skills Blogazine
October 20, 2014: i.d.Labs at Choate Rosemary Hall - Animation Video
October 3, 2014: Mount Vernon Presbyterian School's i.Design Lab and Institute for Innovation
September 23, 2014: Re-Making Education- the Maker Movement and the 4C’s, by Kylie Peppler, (@DrPeppler), Director, Creativity Lab, Indiana University
September 11, 2014: Outstanding new Innovation Lab at the Academy of the Holy Names, Tampa, FL
September 4, 2014: How to Turn Your School Into a Maker Haven, By Katrina Schwartz, KQED Mind/Shift
August 6, 2014: L.A. School Turnaround Sets Sights on Reinventing the Library into a 3,000 square foot “Innovation Space”
July 23, 2014: edutopia's Maker Education Resources Page

We Make Makers! The new Innovation Labs, Makerspaces, and Learning Commons



We Make Makers. Join Us!


Maker Education: Reaching All Learners


WeCreate Center


Cigar Box Guitars at SSM WeCreate Center


Mount Vernon Presbyterian School iDesign Lab


Innovation Lab at Ross School


State of the School: The Future of the Academy of the Holy Names


Northrop Grumman Innovation Lab @ Da Vinci Schools


NKY Makerspace


MC2 STEM High School, Cleveland, OH


We Are The Greengineers, Newton Innovation Lab


Monticello High School Learning Commons Tour


The Idea Lab at Gunn High School, Palo Alto, CA