Office Depot, Inc. announced the opening of a new STEM wing at Lovejoy High School, located in Lucas, Texas. The STEM wing was unveiled at Learning @ Lovejoy, a nine-day professional development conference with more than 50 sessions for every subject area, level and role within K-12 education.
The nearly 28,000 square foot addition features 12 classrooms, two engineering labs, five computer labs and one think tank incubator space, geared toward teaching science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Office Depot, Inc. provided full end-to-end services from visioning to implementation of the furniture and equipment along with a financial contribution toward the incubator space, which was designed to facilitate a high-impact learning environment that fosters creativity and innovation.
“Today’s classrooms need to stimulate learning in an environment where technology and digital learning are integral components,” said Becki Schwietz, senior director of K-12 Initiatives for Office Depot, Inc. “The STEM program at Lovejoy exemplifies modern learning, and we are pleased to contribute toward this innovative educational solution.”
The STEM wing provides students with two distinct applied learning areas spanning two floors. On the first floor, students produce projects using work tables and traditional and digital tools under the apprenticeship of industry professionals and educators working with them to design, prototype and synthesize advanced products. The second floor, a think tank incubator nest, was created in collaboration with Office Depot, Inc. and overlooks the busy workshop below. This space facilitates ideation, observation and project management of the first floor production area. Although the two areas are separated, they were developed to facilitate collaboration through different steps within the same student-led design process.
The space was designed to resemble an industrial and advanced digital workshop with building systems such as plumbing, electrical, HVAC and some structural beams left exposed to highlight the systems in place that support and operate the building. The incubator space is outfitted with conference tables, high-definition smart TV monitors, and office chairs instead of the typical student seating. Learners and visitors to the space can also experience furnishings and digital tools that are common in modern STEM work environments.
The new STEM wing was developed with input from teachers, who worked with the district to outline the program goals. The STEM courses offered at Lovejoy High School support students in the practice of applying diverse subject area skillsets in order to solve real world and authentic problems, encourage creative thinking and problem solving, and enhance collaboration among students and teachers.
“Office Depot has been a tremendous partner in helping our district establish a 21st century model for educational design,” said Dennis Muizers, deputy superintendent for Lovejoy Independent School District. “The ability to be flexible in order to meet the needs of each student is the hallmark of our learning spaces and instructional goals, and we are thrilled to make this vision a reality for our students and take their education to an even higher level.”