HOWELL – Howell schools continue to innovate and improve; now making big changes at Aldrich Elementary School.
Recently, Aldrich Elementary unveiled its brand new makerspace and STEM lab, coined the Panther IDEA Lab. The “IDEA” stands for Innovate, Design, Engineer, and Art.
The Panther IDEA Lab was officially opened to students with a ribbon cutting in the media center on May 1. The new space was funded by a $10,000 grant from OceanFirst Bank, and in part by the Howell Township Education Foundation and the Aldrich Parent Teacher Organization.
According to Aldrich Principal Andrew Smith, “the space was designed for all types of learners to be successful with emphasis on students receiving special education, academic support and educational support services such as occupational, physical and speech therapies.”
In the Panther IDEA Lab, students can enjoy sitting at colorful tables with flexible, moveable chairs to keep their brains and bodies moving. There are four main work stations:
- Robotics and Computer Science
- Video and Multimedia Production
- 3D Design and STEM
- Making and a “makeHERspace”
Each of these stations has a technological component and instructions to go along with it. Smith added that the makeHERspace area “was created to ignite the interest of female students in technology, engineering, and design.”
Many schools are incorporating a “maker mindset” into their educational curriculum to allow students to create and construct their own solutions. Howell’s memorial Elementary School recently implemented a similar innovative, hands-on space called The Bulldog Retreat. The Bulldog Retreat, also funded through an OceanFirst grant, is an outdoor STEAM-oriented classroom space.