St. George’s Independent School recently opened the Science and Innovation Lab for lower school students at its Germantown campus. Borrowing from processes used in the engineering and technology fields, the lab facilitates brainstorming and working in small groups to solve problems in creative and unconventional ways. Similar labs are planned for the Memphis and Collierville campuses.
Modeled after innovation labs at top universities, the St. George’s Science and Innovation Lab is an open, industrial space that features workbench-style tables with paper rolls, glass marker boards, trough sinks for water experiments, a 3D printer that creates three-dimensional objects, and a small groups room. Everything in the room is built on wheels so the room configuration can change to meet student needs.
“We wanted to create a dynamic work space with unconventional features to spark creativity and get our students thinking about things in new, exciting ways,” said Early Childhood Director Stewart Burgess. “The open space implies an open, limitless range of ideas to be explored rather than ideas that are boxed into conventional thinking.”
Students in JK through fifth grade visit the Science and Innovation Lab weekly to explore, observe, and build upon their unit of study in the classroom. As an extension of their science unit on plants, for example, students in JK are building worm habitats in the lab to observe how worms dig tunnels to facilitate getting air and water to plant roots. They will then release the worms in the garden they will design next week.
“The Science and Innovation Lab is the culmination of a shift in the way we are educating students in order to prepare them for the 21st-century workplace,” Burgess continued. “Beginning at an early age, we are teaching higher order critical thinking and developing meta-cognitive skills through design thinking, similar to how engineers approach and solve problems.”