Science Center Renovation at Evergreen Park High School
Research behind the Transformation
Technologically outdated, undersized and dysfunctional for today’s curriculum, the land locked, high school science labs offered tremendous potential for improvement. Half of the labs were located in interior classrooms that had no natural daylight, an amenity that flooded the more than ample adjacent corridor. The physical relationship of the labs made it challenging for teachers to collaborate as well as to conduct safe experiments. A major change was needed to create a student-centered classroom design that would inspire the questioning and critical thinking demanded by today’s standards. The process began with an educational evaluation to establish goals for the science department’s teaching methodologies. Increases in cooperative learning, student centered spaces, project based learning, shared spaces, flexibility and learning on display were the goals which led the charge for the architectural solution.
Learning Happens Everywhere
The renovation transformed a section of the 50-year old facility into a tool for 21st Century Education. Eliminating some redundant corridor space and pushing the learning spaces to the perimeter of the building captured a versatile focal point for this science center renovation. This became a student exhibition area, located in the core of the science wing. It allows for a great deal of flexibility for all science curriculums and a great break out space for small groups and student presentations. Also included in the space are moveable marker boards that the students can record data on and then hang in various locations throughout the exhibit space or in the labs to present their findings.
Empowering the “Guide on the Side”
Removing the “Sage on the Stage” physically and philosophically enabled the labs to become a student-centered environment. A teacher collaboration area not only inspires co-curricular teaching plans but allows a space for personal belongings outside of the labs – giving back space to the student learning areas. An Independent Research Lab provides advanced students the dedicated space to complete admission requirements for elite higher education institutions. Large windows allow students to see what is happening behind the walls of all learning spaces putting learning in the new 21st Century labs on display. Students and teachers both have access to a flexible, large conference room. The architecture for this renovation supports the school’s desire to give both more freedom and more responsibility to their students when it comes to learning.
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