The computer science, robotics and engineering classroom is one of three classrooms made from recycled shipping containers in the new Beck Family Research Center on the Maclay School campus Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (Photo: Tori Schneider/Tallahassee Democrat)
Maclay School’s push to enhance student research opportunities in a sustainable, eco-friendly way made its debut Wednesday with the unveiling of the new Beck Family Research Center.
The $1 million facility features three 1,000-square-foot labs: Biomedical and Student Research; Art, Inspiration and Design; and Computer Science, Robotics and Engineering. Each homes in on different interests of Maclay students.
Each classroom is made of refurbished shipping container material and is powered in part by the school’s Solar Smart Flower, which stands just outside the center and rotates with the sun.
There were cost savings in the construction, but Head of School James Milford said saving pennies wasn’t the point behind the new approach.
“One of the things we found out is it’s the things that go in a classroom that really run up the expense,” Milford said. “Even if it did cost the same, we wanted to make a statement for the students and the community. Sustainability, the conversation, is going to be much more important for the next and upcoming generations.”
The idea for the new three-classroom building took root last year when administrators began thinking about the environment in which students learn. The school’s board distributed a parent survey that identified a need for additional science, technology, engineering and mathematics approaches at the school.
Out of that discussion was launched iTHINK — Individual, Technology, Hands-on learning, Innovation, Network and Knowledge — aimed at preparing the school’s K-12 students for college and the workforce using innovative learning facilities. The center grew out of the initiative.
The art, inspiration and design classroom is one of three classrooms made from recycled shipping containers in the new Beck Family Research Center on the Maclay School campus Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (Photo: Tori Schneider/Tallahassee Democrat)
“We wanted the construction of the facility to be inspiring,” Milford said.
Katrina Rolle, board chair at Maclay, said with the school being only 100 acres, the new facility’s placement was a no-brainer.
“We didn’t want it too far for the kindergartners to walk,” Rolle said.
The first art class in the new building was held Monday. Students had a chance to wield their creative skills and take part in activities such as ceramics and painting.
“Just facilitating everything that we are promoting here carries into the classroom, just like trying to make everything digital and (using) less paper,” said Kaitlyn Dressel, a fine arts teacher at the school.
The complex will not be the last of the eco-friendly happenings on the school grounds. Next on the agenda is the construction of a $7 million, 21,000-square-foot Center for Innovation, where science labs will be housed. It will include a college counseling site, student union and a school store with a business and entrepreneurship lab.
The new facilities tie into Milford’s student-focused, forward-looking vision, which includes moving away from traditional textbook-based learning to a more engaging curriculum.
“When they graduate that’s exactly what colleges and the job market are looking for,” he said, “students who are engaged, determined and unstoppable.”
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