EdTech Innovation Committee Co-Chair David Jarboe (D2 Harrison Schools, Colorado) shared at a recent meeting that his district has embarked on a new initiative around incorporating STEAM education into their district: STEAM E2 (Exploration and Expeditions) Lab.20240312 085127

The STEAM E2 (Exploration and Expeditions) Lab is a wholly integrated environment designed to facilitate hands-on project-based learning. The labs provide a dedicated and engaging learning space to increase student achievement in core competencies while sparking their access, exposure, and interest in STEAM.

steam initiative 2 dave jarboe

The students engage in the integration of core disciplinary concepts and knowledge to bridge real-world connections in relevant ways. The labs also allow students to learn, explore, collaborate, create, and problem-solve, providing them with the essential skills needed to flourish in their future careers.

The goal of the STEAM Lab is to increase student’s capacity to learn and construct knowledge through active, engaged, and social learning. Students use a growth mindset to take their development, understanding of a concept, or current skill set and increase that through a hands-on learning experience. These labs were installed throughout the district in every school for grades K-5 and 6-8.

Read on to learn about how Jarboe, who oversees the district’s efforts around STEAM, pressed forward when resistance was apparent and how it all began in the library.

Action: What steps did you or your school/district take to make progress in this area?

Like other schools, we have libraries with a lot of books and not many students or circulation of those books. We were fortunate to pass a bond, and as part of that, it included that we convert all of our old media centers or libraries, into what we call Learning Commons.

steam initiative 3 dave jarboeWe structured those areas purposely on the four C’s of learning and created zones within the Learning Commons:

We have a makerspace, which is creativity.
We have a collaboration zone, which has shared panels and diner-type setups where kids can sit and talk and collaborate together.
We have a communication station, which is a flexible seating area with a large display where presentations can be done.
We left some books to support critical thinking—think of it as a research area.

Additionally, we were fortunate enough to get a large grant where we were able to put in STEAM labs in all 13 of our K-8 schools.

Impact: What was the result? Who benefited? How will you move forward?

It was exciting to build those spaces, and I jokingly called it “Fields of STEAM”, thinking “build it, and they will come” because there were a lot of barriers that the schools had around STEAM education. We knew it was important, and it was part of our strategic plan. But schools would say, “We don’t have staff,” “We don’t have the stuff,”, “It’s just too difficult,” “We have all these competing initiatives; we’ve got to get kids numeracy and literacy,“ “Do we have time to do that?”20230216 213134413 ios20230216 213134413 ios (002)

So we took on the challenge, and we built it as an after school program, but soon found that, because the spaces were there organically, principals would come to us and say, “Hey, can we use them during the day?” And it reinvented the Specials model because art, music, and PE were what everyone did and has always done during Specials at elementary.

But now they’ve begun to think outside the box and to think about how they can incorporate STEAM into their Specials rotation. When an art teacher left, they considered hiring a STEAM-focused art teacher. We even have a school where the music teacher left and they wanted to hire a STEAM-focused music teacher.

We found ways to blend and incorporate the philosophy of STEAM education into the design process so now students from across the district are getting that experience during the day where it was just non-existent before.

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About the EdTech Trail Mix Series

EdTech Trail Mix, is a collection of shared, bite-sized stories from the EdTech Innovation Committee and CoSN Members to help others drive impact. How are you using the Driving K-12 Innovation Report to improve systems in your schools? Share your EdTech Trail Mix today!

Additional Resources
Driving K-12 Innovation: 2024 Hurdles, Accelerators, & Tech Enablers
All Driving K-12 Reports


AUTHOR: Stephanie King, Writer and Communications Manager, CoSN’s EdTech Innovations Committee and Driving K-12 Innovation

Published on: April 23, 2024

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