Mt. SAC is fast tracking a STEM center to provide services to Science and Engineering students. I had the opportunity to visit the STEM center at FOX valley and take some pictures of what works in their center. Please click on images to make them larger.
First there are some small group study centers that are made of light weight round tables separated by rolling partitions. The ones that had round tables with light weight rolling chairs were in use. The ones with LARGE HEAVY chairs and anchored square tables were not. The rolling partitions had integrated whiteboards which showed limited use.
Immediately past the area shown in the first picture was a series of tables designed to seat 4 shown at the left below. . These open areas showed high use and tutoring was taking place at one of the tables on a rolling white board. The rolling whiteboards seem to get significantly more use then the fixed whiteboards in this space.
Care was taken to use materials on the floor, ceiling and walls to damp noise in the space.
Much of the furniture is on wheels and the floor is carpeted with a very dense patterned weave to allow easy rolling and not show dirt.
Shown on right below is an area adjacent to this area with a series of computer collaboration stations to allows students to work in
station.groups of 2 or 3 on a computer
These did get some use but in general students seemed to prefer open tables and using their own laptops. If the space is serving as a open computer lab, this is a requirement. The people pictured whose faces you can see are all workshop participants who have signed releases for their photos to be displayed.
In the back there is a station where the staff monitors the center and there are reminders on the tables for students to “clock in” when they use the center.
The final area shown at right was sets of paired tables that were separated by low glass partitions.
Based on observation and discussion with the center lead, these tables get moderate use, but typically by one student studying alone.
These tables get more use then the tables separated by high partitions but not as much as the tables that are in the open.
- Rolling whiteboards are useful for student working in groups and for tutoring.
- Open tables are better the tables separated by partitions.
- Low partitions are better then tall partitions.
- Moveable furniture is better then fixed furniture. Light furniture is better then heavy.
- Power was provided on the walls and no where else.
Finally here is a picture of the FAB lab that is near the STEM center. In discussion, this space has some of the highest traffic per square foot of any space on campus. It is fronted with a glass wall and glass door and is on the aisle were the engineering technology faculty offices and classroom area. It is NOT directly supervised, but faculty are always within sight of the space and it is closed when faculty are not in the area.
The FAB lab has:
- Laser Cutter
- 3D printer
- Hand tools both mechanical and electrical
- Injection molder.
In addition we had a chance to visit one of their model classrooms. This is a great way to offer the types of interaction that we would like to see in a reduced space. The current physics instructor loves teaching in this room. Of particular note is the oval tables that compactly seats 6 students and has a white board surface which means that we don’t need the large space for whiteboards.