3 Key Elements of Future Ready Science Labs
- April 27, 2021
- Anthony Bowie
Gone are the old, stuffy, and institutional-looking labs of the past, and now in their place are bright and airy future ready spaces that support collaboration and student-centered learning. Students benefit from working in spaces that are designed for their comfort and to support their learning, and––in a future ready science lab––this means designing specific areas to support different functions of learning.
Several factors contribute to students’ comfort, learning, and achievement in different environments, and the design of a learning space directly affects these functions.
To foster student collaboration, future ready science labs need presentation areas including whiteboard surfaces and tech-friendly monitors for students to share their screens on. When students are able to show their thinking to one another as they work through problems, communicate, and collaborate, they are better able to reach the conclusions and learn the concepts they are focusing on. Additionally, students need sufficient space to gather around and work on lab activities together, so all group members can have an active part in learning and collaboration.
Physical space is a commodity, particularly in science lab environments. This makes it critical for future ready labs to have flexible features and furniture pieces, allowing for the shifting of furniture for greater active learning space, open space for safety or movement through the lab, or areas for group collaboration. Offering multiple, separate learning areas––such as a formal laboratory space alongside a more flexible lounge-like space––enables students to participate in traditional science labs and activities before shifting to another area to sit down, work, and brainstorm.
An emphasis on comfort and ambiance is important in creating student-centered learning spaces. Not only are comfortable desks, chairs, and lounge furniture important to this goal, but elements of ambiance including lighting, colors, and open space also add to students’ comfort in the space. A calm, comfortable, and functional environment allows students to focus their energy on their own learning without distractions or frustrations.
These elements are highly functional and help students guide their own pathways for learning. At Deer Path Middle School in Illinois, implementing future ready labs with these features has allowed students greater opportunities for collaboration and self-led learning. Plus, students enjoy these spaces for the comfort and function they provide, making it easier for them to focus on learning.
To learn about Deer Path Middle School’s experience creating future ready science labs for their students, read the Tech & Learning article: How to Design “Future Ready” Science Labs.