Westwood Science Lab

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Westwood Science Lab

By: charissawatkins@alhambraesd.org

Westwood Primary created a shared space for science. The science lab was set up as a typical classroom with desks in groups of four and multiple classes use the lab on a daily basis. Teachers were feeling frustrated by the shared space. Desks were all the same height. Chairs were being switched out from large to small and vice versa. Science kits were stacked along the wall and materials were not easily accessible. With desks cramped on the carpet, the teachers felt that the room wasn’t conducive to hands on science learning. The teachers decided to redesign the space to meet the needs of all students who engage in the science lab. There were four needs to be met that will benefit their students: Height of furniture with varied seating Physical environment Accessible materials Alternate space for science kits Students engaged in a discussion about how they get comfortable and work when at home. They shared that they often study in their room on a bed, laying on the living room floor, standing at the counter in the kitchen, or at a traditional desk/table. With that input, teachers created multiple seating options for students which allows them to learn while standing, sitting, or kneeling. Desks were raised and shortened and cushions were brought in for comfort. Teachers and admin worked together to gather furniture on campus that could be included in the new design. Two long bookshelves were adapted into a standing work space, which gave students additional shelving for the materials they would be using to investigate. Desk arrangements were modified to allow more floor space and their science kit materials were displayed and labeled across a large shelf for easy access. This also allows students the opportunity to revisit past investigations and resources. Additionally, contact paper was used to repurpose the surface of the bookshelves. Students have been very excited about their science lab. They are learning to choose the learning space that will maximize their success during their science block. By self monitoring their choices, they are becoming aware of how they learn best and are mastering the 21st Century Learning Skills: Critical Thinking & Problem-Solving, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity. Students are in a positive head space to function at their highest level.

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