Innovation

Midway Middle School Science Gets a STEM Makeover

By Sam Marquis, Baylor University Intern

Picture this: You are back in 8th grade science class and it is the first experiment day of the year. You and your best friends all try to squeeze around the tall black-top tables bolted down all around the classroom, but you quickly realize that there is not room for everyone! Sadly, your group has to split and, as you scatter across the classroom, you wish for a way to be able to all work together. While most of us can remember the complications that arise from the inflexibility of the typical science lab, for students at Midway Middle School, these are problems of the past. With the new flex table grant generously donated by the Arconic Foundation, students are no longer confined by the furniture around them.

Eighth grade science labs at Midway Middle School got a makeover! With the new lab furniture from the Arconic Foundation Grant, those pesky black top tables were replaced by movable kite shaped desks. The introduction of these new flexible tables into the science labs allows science teachers at Midway Middle School to design a layout most suitable for the day’s lesson plans. The added flexibility of the classroom set up helps teachers implement exciting new experiments and group work into the curriculum. David Gaines, an 8th grade science teacher, has seen the effect of the new flex tables on how he teaches physics! Mr. Gaines explained how “physics labs need space and with the new furniture, students can now conduct them right in the classroom instead of having to go out in the hallway.”With the implementation of this new flexible seating grant, teachers can better monitor and assist their students, improving the quality of the lab and better impacting the students’ education. Not a day goes by that Arconic’s investment in our school has not been utilized” recounts Mr. Gaines.

The root of the need for new flexible work environments comes from the reinvigoration of STEM materials in the modern classroom. Children today are going beyond the typical stationary science experiments and working on projects that require great amounts of movement during the design and data collection phases. Teachers hope that the new classroom furniture will create an environment that fosters the 4C’s- collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. The impact of the desks on classroom environments was noticed immediately. “The desks make the room accommodate the task rather than forcing the task to accommodate the room,” states Lorraine Kasmala, another one of Midway’s 8th grade science teachers. Ms. Kasmala goes on to explain how “the kids feel like they have more control over their environment” with the new desks.

The new Flex Tables are working to redesign the way that students experience science. By reinvigorating the science classroom, students are diving into a new, interactive learning environment that is bringing a fresh new face to the science curriculum. The roles of these new tables goes beyond just furniture, but rather as an instrumental part of children’s educational development. The 8th grade teachers are so thankful for Arconic Foundation and the difference they have made for Midway Middle School students by helping to make their vision for a better science classroom become a reality.

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