When I was growing up, we only had computers in the library and technology was only slightly integrated with the classroom curriculum. Most of our learning was done in the traditional way, with all the little desks facing towards a whiteboard on which the teacher wrote out the lessons while we sat there writing in our little notebooks.
Nowadays, schools are taking advantage of technology and collaborative learning techniques to make school more exciting. We recently worked with local architecture firm Touzet Studio on a prototype for an eco-friendly, technology driven classroom at St. Thomas Episcopal School in Coral Gables. We built new sustainable furniture using formaldehyde free, low voc materials. We decided to use laminate so it could stand up to the wear and tear of the busy classroom. The laminate is FSC certified and was adhered using water-based glue. We also made “study” carrels for the computer stations that were on casters. Everything in the room is on casters so the classroom can be easily reconfigured depending on the day’s activities.
In addition, we made some pegboards (with low voc boards) so the students could hang up their tools in the mini woodshop area. They are combining math, science, and—robotics!
This quick classroom makeover was a really cool project to be involved in, especially since the administrators at the school were so wonderful to work with. Everyone was excited about the possibilities that redesigning the classroom would bring for the students. And of course we were happy to use materials that would not bring harmful toxins into the classroom where these young minds come to grow.