Innovation Labs, Makerspaces, and Learning Commons - Page 2

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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. Resources for making Innovation Labs, Makerspaces, and Learning Commons

8. The Innovation Lab of Newton Public Schools, Newton, MA

The Innovation Lab of Newton Public Schools functions as an student-centered, faculty powered design lab for collaborative, solution-centered educational research and development. Newton’s Lab functions across four domains: Incubator Lab; Outreach/Community Building; Internal Innovation / Curriculum R&D; Libraries as Innovation Labs.

Greengineering Shop in Panorama. photo by Susan Haverstick of GNRG2


Articles & Videos


9. The InnovationLab, Thompson School District, Loveland, CO

Loveland, CO

The InnovationLab in Loveland, Colorado is located in a 1910 Victorian house. The InnovationLab allows individual learners to learn what they want to learn how they want to learn it. Interest-powered. Peer-supported. Openly networked. Shared purpose. Visit the 'be you' house and you might just see students working together, helping one another, talking through problems or opportunities. The InnovationLab is Interest-powered, Peer-supported, Openly networked, and Shared purpose



Articles & Videos

Note: See An Inspiration for Today’s Innovators, Review of Becoming Self-Directed Learners: Student & Faculty Memoirs of an Experimenting High School 40 Years Later, by James A. Bellanca (Editor), Arline Paul (Editor), et al. Review by Bob Pearlman, February 12, 2014. - Bob

10. Northrop Grumman Innovation Lab, Da Vinci High School, Los Angeles, CA

Hawthorne, CA

(South of LAX Airport)

In 2010, Northrop Grumman donated $130,000 to a local Da Vinci public high-school for the creation of a 5-area, high-tech "Innovation Lab." DA Vinci Schools operate three small, college-preparatory public charter high schools, DA Vinci Design, DA Vinci Science, and DA Vinci Communications, and a K-8 at-school/home-school model, DA Vinci Innovation Academy. All students have access to the Northrop Grumman Innovation Lab, a state-of-the-art multimedia center where students are able to bring their real-world projects to life while developing the 21st century skills critical for success in college and the global workplace. The Innovation Lab is organized into centers (Research and Development, Design and Simulation, Collaboration Corner, Project Place) that follow the natural progression of a project. Typically, students conduct research to identify the nature of the problem, then brainstorm with each other to identify needed resources and start designing their solution. They run simulations to analyze their design and refine it after additional collaboration. Finally, they prepare a presentation to share the results with other students.



Articles & Videos


11. MICDS STEM Center, Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School (MICDS), St. Louis, MO

St. Louis, MO

At MICDS, the design and implementation of an inquiry-based, hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics curriculum is a strategic priority. Construction of the 86,000 square-foot McDonnell Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Facility and Brauer Hall was completed in March 2014 and and the new building opened for students and teachers on March 31. The building itself is a teaching tool, featuring design elements that aspire to meet the qualifications for the highest LEED™ certification offered by the U.S. Green Building Council. These features include 100kW Photovaltics panels placed across the roof that will convert sunlight into energy, a storm water filtration system, energy-efficient HVAC systems and much more.



Articles & Videos


12. FABLAB, MC² STEM High School, Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio

MC2 STEM High School, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, was created through a public-private partnership among a number of organizations, with the intention of providing students with an integrated curriculum that is informed by real-world experiences. The school serves about 300 students at campuses embedded in business and school sites around the city -- the Great Lakes Science Center, General Electric (GE) Lighting's Nela Park campus, the Health Careers Center (a CMSD building), and various college campuses. At any given time, you may see freshmen and sophomores immersed in workshops with tutors from NASA or in rigorous projects (PDF) and mentorship programs with engineers from GE Lighting, or juniors and seniors stepping up to demanding internships (PDF) at a variety of local businesses. While STEM is the school's emphasis, teachers cover all subjects required by Ohio's state standards through integrated, transdisciplinary project-based learning.



Articles & Videos


13. Westtown Science Center, Westtown School, Westtown, PA

Westtown, PA

From A Special Message from John Baird, Head of School, re the new Science Center, which opened January, 2014: "I am thrilled about what this building means for all of our students and for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) education at Westtown, starting now, and for many years to come. I am convinced that our world needs more vigorous, analytical, creative, caring, ethical and mission-driven scientists and citizens shaped by the values and respectful sense of community at Westtown more than ever."



Articles & Videos

14. Alain LeRoy Locke College Preparatory Academy, Los Angeles, CA


JetSpace - From outdated school libraries, to 21st century learning spaces. from No Right Brain Left Behind on Vimeo.

Can less than 5% of a school's footprint be used to re-energize the rest of the school? As one of the winners of the LA2050 challenge together with Green Dot Public Schools, we set out to re-design the concept of a library for the 21st century, this time in Locke High School, Watts. Creative Director / Project Lead: Viktor Venson.


Articles & Videos


15. Academy of the Holy Names, Tampa, Florida

Tampa, Florida

The Academy of the Holy Names is an independent, Catholic, coeducational elementary school and a college preparatory high school for young women, sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Together with the educational design firm Fielding Nair International *, members of the Academy community have created a facilities master plan that will assist in implementing important elements of the AHN five-year strategic vision, “Partnering for Tomorrow, Living the Holy Names Legacy.” Although it is still conceptual and may undergo some revisions throughout the design process, the plan will serve as a road map for new construction and the reimagining of existing academic spaces. The Academy will undertake a pilot project in which two of the computer labs in the Media Center will be converted into an Innovation Lab for the middle and high school students. The lab will be a showcase for what 21st century education looks like in practice. It will be a place where education and spatial design work in harmony, demonstrating how new teaching and learning methods benefit from spaces specifically designed to fit a new model of education.

Academy of the Holy Names Innovation Lab from Jay J. Litman, AIA, Principal, Fielding Nair International



Articles & Videos

* Disclosure: Bob Pearlman, this site's webmaster, is a Senior Education Consultant and Planner at Fielding Nair International

16. GHS Innovation Lab, Greenwich High School, Greenwich, CT

Innovation Lab 2015-2016 from Brian Walach on Vimeo.


Articles & Videos

Teacher Practice Blogs


17. Other schools to watch -- Innovation Labs, Makerspaces, and Learning Commons

The Harley School

The Ellis School

Hillel Day School

Hillel Day School, Farmington Hills, MI. K-8 School with totally transformed laerning environments and learning communities.

Boone County

NKY Makerspace


Boone County Schools, KY

NKY Makerspace is used by all schools in the district.

  • Robotics & Coding Room - Lego EV3, NXT, Cubelets, S2 Parallax robots, Boe-Bot's with expansion kits, Scribbler S2, Kibo, Ozobots
  • Make Your Own Room - Hand tools and electric tools, X-Carve CNC machine, vinyl cutting printer, and poster printer
  • Engineering Room - 9 laptops, Arduino Uno, Makey Makey, EggBot, WaterColorBot and LittleBits Pro
  • Design/Thinking Room - 4 Dasbotics Printr Bots, Gorilla Maker 3D printer, Monoprice Dual Extrusion 3D printer, with 6 desktop PCs and 2 idea/design tables
  • Audio & Video Studios - Two studios complete with iMac workstations, Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, Pro Tools, mixers, green screen, microphones, iPads, and more.

Hawken School

Cleveland, Ohio

Hawken School, Cleveland, Ohio


Stirn Hall Grand Opening, August 20-21, 2016, 12465 County Line Road, Hawken School Gates Mills Campus. Hawken School renovates and redesigns its Upper School for 21st Century hands-on, collaborative learning. "Kids learn best by doing", says D. Scott Looney, Head of School.

Tour Stirn Hall, the new state-of-the-art high school building, and take in the Hawken Upper School student experience. Explore the 115,000 square feet of new and renovated academic and performance space. See architectual walkthrough video of the new learning spaces.

  • Cutting edge two-story Science Wing
  • Innovative two-story Learning Commons
  • Fabrication Lab and Media And Communications Lab including
    music, choral and dance space
  • editing suite
  • media lab
  • media production studio
  • Thirty-seven new 500 – 1200 square foot classrooms
  • Five room college counseling suite
  • Dedicated Writing and Learning Centers
  • Student cafe and brilliance bar
  • Ropes & challenge course
  • 300 acres of green and athletic space
  • And much more!

Article: A $26.5M makeover turns Hawken Upper School into an architectural gem (photos, video), By Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer, August 18, 2016

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