Scholarship entry from:

Mikee Kasandra Quiacos Medrano

Elmwood Park High School

School District 401

I am Kasandra from Elmwood Park High School, and today, I want to talk about my school’s best wing: the science department. As one of the newer additions to the school, it has the best air conditioning system and an architecture that sets it apart from the monotonous design of the rest of the building.

Upon entering from the first floor, after a mini hall, you face the wing: two floors of shades gray, terracotta, and yellow with a balcony above you showing the chemistry and anatomy classrooms. To the right, you witness what connects the two stories: a beige staircase next to a spacious Amphitheater in front of a huge whiteboard. The Amphitheater is the perfect space for collaborative learning. It discards the stuffiness of classroom desks and encourages students to work with each other. It is an open free space where ideas seem to effortlessly come to life. As you lay down these wide steps, the ceiling’s light system intrigues you. There are circles connected by lines, almost like the structures in your chemistry notes–the lights are molecules! Turning on a switch illuminates H2O–already learning chemistry just from the architecture.

Enough about the Amphitheater. It is time for the classrooms to shine, specifically my physics class. On what you thought was a glass window-like wall, suddenly, the front starts to go up–a garage door! What is cooler than seeing a garage-like entryway to your science class? The huge doorway gives many benefits. One, the equipment can easily get in and out, allowing for spacious experiments. And two, you get a clear view of your peers upon entering the classroom every day. Inside the room, the walls are populated by yellow cabinets and drawers: storage for books, instruments, flying toy pigs, and test papers. There are several sinks distributed throughout the room, allowing easy access for thermodynamic experiments, or washing your hands. The safety resources are also unmatched. There is a red fire extinguisher right in front. Next to it, the eye wash station, the emergency shower, and the fire blanket–all of which provide students with the comfort of being safe when mistakes happen. Throughout the classroom, each black table holds two spinning chairs–one for each lab partner. The chairs allow students to easily look at peers for questions and help or move around the table when performing a lab. On two corners of the room, two doors lead to mini classrooms that are connected to the adjacent normal classroom–like a secret passageway connecting the rooms of a castle. More useful though, these mini classrooms are the perfect areas for break-out rooms or small study sessions. It is a getaway for a group to have their own space, away from the noise of the class, when planning for a project or studying for a test.

Many elements of this science hallway make learning fun and productive. Overall, the well-planned architecture provides students with the resources for collaborative learning and an environment that is continuously interesting to look at.