North Augusta Middle School’s 21st Century Learning Lab allows teachers to teach outside the box.
“All of the teachers have computers in their classrooms, but this lab is different because it has a variety of technology,” said Principal Wendy Jacobs. “It’s all student-based, hands-on collaborative learning where the students are doing the work and the teachers are the facilitators.”
The lab, which was completed in 2011 as part of phase one of a school- improvement project, includes a smartboard, eight Dell desktop computers, 10 Macbook computers, 20 iPod touches, earbuds, a sound system, DVD player and an IPEVO Document Camera.
The lab is used by each grade level in all subjects and allows “project-based learning that focuses on critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and innovation,” said Jacobs.
Projects completed in the lab vary from creating a dream room using math concepts to multimedia presentations for English/language arts classes.
Recently, in preparation for the science fair held Tuesday, pupils in B.R. Smith’s science classes used the lab to create graphs for their science projects.
Having access to such a resource adds to the overall learning experience, said Smith, noting that the pupils used the lab for many aspects of their science projects.
“They can apply their knowledge in here,” she said. “I can show them and write down the steps, but it really helps when they get to apply what they’re learning.”
The general feedback from teachers is that pupils seem to be retaining the information more because they are putting into practice what they’re learning in the classroom, said Jacobs.
“It’s a great experience for these students to take what they’re learning in the classroom and apply it to create a project,” she said. “It allows different types of learners to draw on their strengths in a setting other than the traditional paper-pencil setting.”