West Lake Junior High is undergoing an exciting transformation this summer to become Granite’s first junior high STEM school Beginning the first day of summer break, crews will be on site to begin the remodel process. The goal is to create a facility conducive to students learning through the discovery processes often associated with the science, technology, engineering, and math fields. This certainly doesn’t meant those are the only subjects that will be taught. In fact, West Lake STEM will have very robust course offerings. Rather, it means that students in all subjects will have a greater opportunity for hands-on and collaborative learning experiences.
The new West Lake STEM facility will have five larger rooms revamped into “STEM labs” available for reservation by any class or teacher. Additionally, two shop-like areas on the south side of the building will be structured as “large-group” meeting rooms where more than one class could congregate for a combined activity.
The key advantage to these speciality rooms is that they are entirely flexible for whatever kind of activity teachers might want and greatly lend themselves to student movement and exploration. This could be for things as varied as science experiments, student small-group interviews, writing pair shares, Civil War reenactments, CPR training, etc. Anything goes! Even simple activities that could reasonably be done in the classrooms have an exciting added element when they’re presented as, “We’re going to need the STEM lab for this.” Or, “Let’s work with another class in the large-group room.”
The furnishings in the STEM Activity rooms will be lab-like tables that can easily be folded up and moved out of the way. Furnishings in the large-group meeting room are also easily moved and can transform into tables or bleachers. Additionally, doors will be added between each of the STEM labs and the courtyard to facilitate easy student access for outdoor learning activities at the teacher’s discretion.
The West Lake STEM classrooms will look and feel a little more like labs themselves as the school adopts a collaborative, discovery-based culture that permeates the school. All day long, students will be turning to each other and shouldering a great deal of thinking and talking. Instead of a “sit-and-get” arrangement, classrooms will be outfitted with slightly raised, squarish tables that spaciously seat four kids. Students will sit on adjustable raised chairs, but because the tables will be more like countertop height, students can sit or stand as they work and collaborate without blocking other kids. All of the chairs and tables will be on castors for effortless movement and rearrangement.
All of the classrooms will have brand-new carpet with a unique electrical network running right beneath the carpet. This will create nine outlets around the floor of the room that the tables themselves can plug into to provide table-top outlets for a one-to-one Chromebook-to-student deployment throughout the school.
The lighting will be upgraded significantly and mechanical blinds will be installed to the windows that can be controlled with the light switch. The walls will be newly painted with a highlight color to match the eclectic tile colors at each doorway. Even the table tops will be in a matching tone to the accent wall and the “retro-cool” tile at the doorways.
The lockers in the hallway will get an updated paint job. The system furniture in the office and counseling area will be replaced. The lunchroom walls will be updated with an exciting mural for the student body. And, the library will have some additional upgrades as well.
It’s a wonderful day at West Lake! Keep your eye on the website westlakestem.org for week-by-week updates on the remodel progress and the beginning of a new chapter in West Lake’s 50-year history.