PLAINVILLE - Local leaders cut the ribbon on the Middle School of Plainvilleâ€™s newly renovated STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) lab Monday.
The lab, funded through the Florence Fitzgibbon endowment, allows educators to revise their space and curriculum to suit 21st century needs.
School Superintendent Maureen Brummett said that the lab expanded the districtâ€™s STEAM offerings from high school, where a lab opened two years ago, to the lower grades.
â€śThese classrooms will teach todayâ€™s learners to be creative and innovative in their mindset,â€ť she said. â€śIt will help them to create a better present and future.â€ť
Visitors toured each classroom at MSP, stopping first at the classroom of teacher Kim Coyle. Once a language arts room, it had been repurposed into a technology department. Chalkboards have been converted to whiteboards and a new 3D-printing room has been added. Students will be using these to 3-D print a building as part of an architectural study unit.
Next, the tour visited the classroom of Todd Helming, who explained how he teaches students to compose keyboard music and edit songs digitally.
â€śOne of their projects is to take a silent film like one of Charlie Chaplinâ€™s and then create music for a soundtrack,â€ť he said.
â€śIt is amazing that what kids are learning here will go right into helping them get a job,â€ť said Board of Education Chairwoman Andrea Saunders.
They were then shown a video production room with a large green screen, which Helming said is used for the school newscast, MSPN, and which can also be reserved for other work.
â€śIâ€™ve spent a lot of time at WFSB and this is bigger than the space they have in Rocky Hill,â€ť said state Rep. William Petit Jr., R-Plainville.
During the next phase of the tour, educators showcased a room in which students can design model cars and test how aerodynamic they are in wind tunnels.
Finally, the guests visited two rooms in which they saw how students worked with robotics.
Teacher Laurel Schwartz explained the schoolâ€™s VEX Robotics program.
â€śThey design a robot from scratch,â€ť she said. â€śThey work together with two teams and two robots and both of their scores add up together. That way, if you want to score high you have to talk to each other. It teaches soft social skills and hard engineering skills such as torque and gear ratios.â€ť
Schwartz said that VEX Robotics team enters five competitions a year and that their goal is to make it to the state tournament.
The local school district has won the state tournament all three years that the competition has been held.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.