Modernization Project – H.B. Whitehorne Middle School Verona, NJ
- October 5, 2022
- Anthony Bowie
As STEM became more popular in Verona schools over the years, it was apparent that one thing was missing at H.B, Whitehorne Middle School (HBW): a STEM lab learning space.
Over the winter of 2021, Technology, Engineering and Design teacher Julia Zambrano began working with colleagues and the Supervisor of STEM, Glen Stevenson, to secure funding to remodel the woodshop to support tech education.
The learning of STEM principles is increasingly important because it teaches critical thinking skills and instills a passion for innovation. Beyond the benefit of learning science, technology, engineering, and math, STEM assists in the problem-solving and exploratory learning that fuel success across a variety of tasks and disciplines. As Verona schools added more STEM and STEAM curriculum offerings, the classrooms remained largely untouched, and having adequate and properly designed learning spaces are a critical component in STEM courses.
In a recent news article, Zambrano, who holds a bachelor’s in STEM from The College of New Jersey as well as a master’s in special education, shared that when she first came to HBW she mainly focused on rendering tables to make them more practical workspaces for students. She sanded old tables to make them easier to work on and put tables on wheels to make the room more flexible in terms of layout. She also added a pegboard to organize tools, and these little renovations over time motivated her to plan for future developments, with the STEM learning space lab being the goal
“A renovation has always been a long-term goal for the program,” Zambrano noted. “I’m glad I was able to spend several years teaching in the space to develop a vision for an optimal layout. The challenges students tackle in the program are extremely diverse and required a flexible workspace.
So fast forward to the summer of 2022, and the $40,000 renovation began with construction transforming the woodshop into a full-blown STEM learning space lab.
The new space features a testing “arena” for robotics courses, and whiteboards for students to brainstorm. Having more flexibility and physical space for the HBW students to experiment and collaborate is essential in their STEM and STEAM instruction noted Zambrano.
The layout and furniture provided my MiEN was chosen to facilitate students’ needs and better utilize the space and includes
Zambrano believes the larger goal of these programs is to expose students to careers in STEM fields and motivating them to become the next generation of scientists, developers, engineers, and mathematicians. She hope that by updating the programs and introducing the concepts at a younger age, to a larger portion of the student body, is just the start to help encourage and motivate more students to discover their passion for the subject.
In the end, Zambrano was thrilled with the quality, functionality, and aesthetics of the MiEN furniture in the newly renovated space.
“The STEM learning space has exceeded all my expectations and I’m truly in love with every detail. I wanted to thank the design team and Miranda in particular, for the time they spent working with her to make this transformation from old workshop to modern STEM lab possible. “You’re an incredible team! “Miranda, thank you so much for helping everyone visualize what the space could be. You absolutely nailed it!