Superintendent Cyndy S. Taymore
360 Lynn Fells Parkway
Melrose , MA 02176
For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 6, 2017
Contact: John Guilfoil
Melrose Middle School Awarded MassCUE Grant to Establish Idea Lab in Library
MELROSE — Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School Principal Brent Conway is pleased to announce that plans are underway to create an Idea Lab in the Victoria McLaughlin Library.
The Idea Lab will provide a space for students to explore science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) concepts. It is made possible by a $3,000 grant from the Massachusetts Computer Using Educators and a grant from the McLaughlin Foundation. MVMMS is one of just 13 recipients to receive a 2017 MassCUE Competitive Grant.
Space in the library is already available for students to work on video production and editing, along with an area where students can explore coding and robotics. However, with a formalized area and set of activities in the Idea Lab, the goal is to have students analyze complex problems, ask questions and invent a solution, create a system to collect, analyze and explain data, and use coding to persuade an audience of an argument on a regular basis.
“We’re excited to be one of the few recipients of the MassCUE competitive grant, which will help the middle school develop an established space where students can get involved with projects to accompany curriculum topics or further a subject of interest,” Principal Conway said. “The Idea Lab will generate further excitement and collaboration among kids to extend from the work that is already happening in our classrooms.”
Designed similarly to a makerspace — a community area that combines equipment, tools and resources to create and solve problems outside of a formal learning environment — the Idea Lab will give students the ability to further their learning and knowledge on STEAM topics. Hardware tools, like for cutting wood, will not be included in the space.
“Our Idea Lab will enhance our approach to learning, creating an atmosphere of taking chances, experimenting, learning from failure, and ultimately inventing solutions to scenarios posed in a project-based learning or an inquiry learning setting,” said Wendy Arnold, academic facilitator at the library, who applied for the grant.
The MassCUE grant allows the middle school to purchase MOSS Robotics, Raspberry Pi kits and a littleBits STEAM pack to assist students with developing physical models that incorporate coding and robotics based on their interests and educational needs. Students and teachers can also independently or collaboratively investigate coding and the way computer systems work within the context of school-wide learning.
Furnishing the Idea Lab is underway. The space is expected to be completed by the end of May and will be open to students and teachers during the school week from 2-4 p.m. for free play.
Arnold and Academic Facilitator Joshua Cristiano serve as the project supervisors in collaboration with middle and high school STEM Director Jon Morris and Principal Conway.