Case History (Real-World Solutions)
Successfully Furnishing iSTEAM3D Classrooms
Innovative furniture, provided by Smith System, helped propel the ambitious iSTEAM3D curriculum model to success at the Desoto Independent School District.
“JUST PULLING [in] any furniture wouldn’t work,” explains Dr. Jo Green-Rucker with DeSoto Independent School District in DeSoto, Texas. The suburban school district was about to take its STEM initiative a step further with the creation of iSTEAM3D. Its unique curriculum model would combine science, technology, engineering and math with innovative, the arts and 3D learning (discovering, designing and developing).
With the curriculum defined, the district set out to implement an “academy” in each of the district’s three middle schools. Each would have five teachers.
“We wanted the students to use every inch of the academy… in any way they want[ed].” The areas were designed with large open spaces for content, projects and collaboration, a dance room and a science lab. Next up was installing furniture that would allow maximize use of the spaces.
Smith System, a leader in designing furniture for 21st Century classrooms, stepped in to provide tables, lab tables, chairs and storage systems, within the district’s ambitious timeframe.
The versatility of the space and casters on the furniture allow easy transitions from large groups to small. A typical day in the academy, according to West Middle School reading teacher Yvonne Lowry, starts “in the morning [as] students rotate to each teacher to receive content and project instructions. In the afternoons, students have project time with their small groups. The teachers act more as facilitators.”
About one year into launching the academies, all signs point to success. The students are enjoying their new lab stools and tables, “because they are different from the traditional, which is facilitating a new learning process,” says Joey Hayward, East Middle School science teacher. He adds: “The students in iSTEAM are scoring higher than those not in it. We’ve seen tremendous growth in students.”
This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of School Planning & Management.