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Discovery and Exploration: 'FutureLabs' Provide New Learning Opportunity at Intermediate, Middle Schools

District Wide

September 12, 2018 | Community

Student in FutureLab at WAMS.

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (SEPTEMBER 12, 2018) — Students in the Williamsport Area intermediate and middle schools found a new learning experience waiting for them when they returned from summer vacation this year. That’s because the three buildings have each added specially-designed classrooms to support innovation: FutureLabs.

The concept of STEM (science, technology engineering and math) has steadily gained ground across the educational landscape in recent years, and WASD has been no stranger to its growth.

While STEM concepts (or STEAM, which incorporates the arts) have already been embedded across every grade level, the district has officially adopted a curriculum and designed physical locations to bring a cohesive approach to its Future Ready philosophy and further next-generation learning opportunities.

Over the summer, the district worked with Creative Learning Systems, based in Longmont, Co., to install FutureLabs at Curtin and Lycoming Valley Intermediate schools and Williamsport Area Middle School. Equipped with cutting-edge technology, the labs are designed for students to work in teams to develop projects in the areas of scientific data and analysis, circuitry, computer graphics, media arts, mechanics and structures, alternative and renewable energy, software engineering, and robotics and control technology.

Students will use the labs beginning in sixth grade and continue through their middle school years.
 “The labs are providing an unprecedented learning opportunity for our students beginning in sixth grade that strongly support our district-wide college and career readiness effort through project-based learning,” said John Killian, supervisor of elementary curriculum.

Dr. Bernadette Boerckel, the district’s secondary curriculum supervisor, reinforced Killian’s statement, adding: “Students in the WAMS FutureLab will choose learning modules that are unique to their career interests and aptitudes.”

She said the lab is a fun and safe space for students to further define and develop their career pathways by providing “engaging, hands-on, exploratory experiences across most career fields.”

The middle school lab, facilitated by teacher Dustin Brouse, also will require students to collaborate, problem solve, communicate, journal, and present the outcomes of their projects.

 “As we are ultimately preparing students to be successful in high school and beyond,” Boerckel said, “practicing these ‘soft’ or ‘work’ skills is another driving force behind the FutureLab.”

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