Every school offers programs to fit certain interests for students, but La Porte Middle School/Kesling Intermediate has taken this one step further by introducing the Innovation Lab. English teacher and former data coach Mrs. Smith has taken the position that infuses a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) focus into learning to help students get excited about technology with this new program.
Innovation lab is a program that allows students to advance their knowledge with interactive lessons on coding, circuits, robotics, and more. The excitement does not stop there.
Each lesson has its own level of intricacy. For students who are interested in coding there are resources such as cubelets, micro bits, sphero, and ozobots. For circuits there are circuitry basics, little bits, and makey makey. Students attentive to robotics can have fun with Vex and Lego Mindstorm. Apart from these lively activities, the Innovation Lab also offers a virtual reality cart, drones, 3D printers, merge cubes, and many other engineering projects!
“Areas like this are beneficial to help develop creativity and ingenuity, to build resilience, teamwork, and problem-solving. It is also a great opportunity to become exposed to new technologies and to learn how to adapt to new situations,” Smith said. “It is also nice to have a place where students know that their creativity is valued and that failure is a great thing that we learn from, not a negative.”
School days at the new middle school are busy since there are many new programs for students to indulge in. The Innovation Lab fits appropriately into student’s schedules by allowing teachers to bring their classes down.
Every single grade gets the opportunity to visit. The time that they visit depends on which lab they want to pursue. Smith offers a “Morning Maker Space” in one lab Monday through Thursday where students can visit and create whatever their mind desires.
“We also are expanding into a Morning ICE Lab where students will be learning about many of STEM principles and how to use the equipment in the labs,” Smith said.
Teachers are given the choice between borrowing materials to teach the lab in his or her own classroom or staying in the Innovation Lab to receive guidance from Smith.
So far the Innovation Lab has exposed students to 3D designs in TinkerCAD, Warka Water Towers, Density and Mayan Escape Rooms, Solar Cars, Codings, several hours of virtual reality, and QR Code Article Walks. Smith plans on introducing many more intriguing opportunities for students to expand their knowledge of technology.
Smith’s bright personality and exciting approach to teaching allows students to feel comfortable and happy while still learning easily. When students partner up with Smith to absorb the benefits of disclosing themselves to the advancement of technology, the learning process is effortless. This is just one of the many things that make the Innovation Lab so special.