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New Principia School Centers Spotlight Student-Centered Learning

This fall, two newly renovated, technologically advanced learning spaces—overseen by professionals with industry experience—are lighting up learning across disciplines at Principia Upper School.

Whether for books or big screens, individual study or group projects, research or problem solving—the IDEA Center has become the go-to place for students (and faculty).

The “IDEA” in IDEA Center represents . . .
• Ideas that are principled, creative, and innovative,
• Design processes that are collaborative, iterative, and generative,
• Excellence in thought and product and exploration of new possibilities, and
• Actions that put ideas to use for the betterment of humanity.

With her background as a petroleum industry project manager, the role of IDEA Center Coordinator Sarah Leedberg is to model and support scientific, solution-oriented research and problem solving. “We want our students to approach everything like it’s a science problem,” she says. “What do you see? What do you know? What are the unknowns? How can you figure out the best solution?”

The Center is geared to rapid sharing and real-time collaboration. Its mix of glass-partitioned cubicles with networked, large-screen monitors; a flexible central seating area; and breakout rooms can accommodate any study style.

The new Media and Communications Center underscores the central role of digital media and communication in education—and life—today. “It’s critical that our students not only acquire production skills but also learn how to be critical consumers of media content. We help students raise the bar—on what they take in and on what they put out,” says coordinator Brooke Robbins, a former television news anchor.

“Media is the most collaborative of art forms,” notes school alum and Hollywood producer David Lovegren, who helped re-conceptualize courses and studio facilities. “There isn’t any subject area—music, speech, writing, history, foreign language—that couldn’t become a collaborator!”

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