First, what is STEM? STEM education combines science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in real-world lessons that allow students to make connections between school, work, and the global economy. The goal is to increase America’s talent pool by vastly improving K-12 mathematics and science education.
Though the term STEM labs has recently become popular, Interior Concepts has designed furniture for technology education for years, so we have a lot of experience to draw from to make your lab the best learning environment possible.
Below are a few design tips. Download our free STEM Lab Planning Guide for the complete list of design considerations.
- STEM Lab Workstations – First, determine the number of students that will use the classroom and how many students will work together in a group. Verify if computers and technology equipment will need to be placed on top of the worksurfaces and whether these items will be used individually or shared. This information will help to determine the station shape and size.
- Instructor Desks for STEM Labs – Decide whether mobility in the instructor desk is important and what technology the instructor workstation needs to house. A storage area can be built into the instructor desk to store equipment and provide access to wall outlets. This will keep the area neat by storing equipment, cords, and cables out of the way.
- Students – Design a comfortable working environment for students by knowing the age of the students that the room needs to serve. If the room needs to serve multiple age groups, consider using height-adjustable chairs to accommodate various students. Designing the workstations to coordinate with the curriculum and tasks, will create a sophisticated and engaging real-world working environment for your students.
- Your Classroom – Your technology and furniture representative are there to help. They will note the location of doors, windows, columns, and heater vents in your classroom. They will also need to know whether power will be accessed from the floor, ceiling, and/or the walls. Access to power might determine the layout of student workstations in the room and whether or not the furniture will need to have electrical outlets built into the design.
Teamwork & Technology
The room above is a new science lab at Eglin Elementary School located in Florida. Younger students learn about mass and gravity with Lego building projects, while older students work in small groups modeled after NASA, learning teamwork along with technology. The classroom was designed with a central meeting area, storage at each group work area, and additional large storage areas at the front of the classroom.
Structure & Function
The engineering lab above features tables for lectures, computer workstations, and areas for group work. The instructor using this room had this to say about the new lab, “The engineering lab is a thing of beauty. It is a true model of what 21st century effective learning classrooms should look like in terms of structure and function.”