Posted in Colchester High School, Community, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, General, Other Important Information, Programs, Science Labs & Instructional Center at CHS, Student Spotlight, Videos, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan

Proposed Renovations to CHS Science Labs and Why They Are So Important

Science and technology education is now more important than ever before.

The global clean-tech market alone is expected to expand to at least $2.3 trillion by 2020, and that is just one tiny component of our increasingly scientific world.

Now the Colchester community has the opportunity to create within Colchester High School a twenty-first-century science center that will truly prepare our current and forthcoming students for not only their futures but for all of our futures. They are the ones who will champion science and engineering for the rest of us. They need to be ready.

Please click here to view this video explaining why renovating the CHS science classrooms and labs is so important—and why now is the best time to do it.

CHS student Noah Kozlowski, a very talented videographer, worked closely with CSD in the creation of this video. Many, many thanks to Noah!

The Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017 emphasizes the importance of high standards and expanded opportunities for our students along with innovative, flexible approaches with a commitment to excellence. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas and the Vermont Science Curriculum and Standards also emphasize the critical importance of up-to-date learning environments.

And yet, while Colchester High School students’ academic performance has significantly improved in recent years and has even attracted the attention of the Vermont State Legislature as a result of these improvements, their science labs and classrooms—which have not been updated since the building’s construction in 1975—are considerably inadequate, placing our current and future students at a direct disadvantage as they prepare for their post–high school lives in an increasingly technological and scientific landscape.

Last October, Colchester School District requested community partners interested in collaborating with us to design twenty-first-century science classrooms, amassing a fantastic committee of scientists from our community as well as school board members, administrators, student representation, and educators.

  • Committee members toured the existing science facilities to observe firsthand the facilities’ current condition and why they are no longer sufficient for twenty-first-century learners.
  • The community scientists discussed current best practices in the field and provided valuable insight into the numerous considerations that must be taken into account when creating thoughtfully designed science instructional environments.
  • Black River Design offered extensive expertise and a number of options for the potential project’s design based upon the committee’s insight, including strategic floor planning to maximize flexibility, functionality, and long-term serviceability for our students and staff. Committee members discussed a number of the proposed floor plans to determine the safest, most optimally designed and technology-rich yet cost-effective option. The considerations included but were not limited to:
    • access to and flexibility of instructional spaces and equipment
    • proper storage and ventilation of chemicals and other materials
    • maximizing energy efficiency and its associated cost savings and environmental impact
    • monopolizing upon cost incentives whenever possible
    • inclusion of student and teacher meeting areas
    • maximizing natural light
    • composition of classroom fixtures and materials
    • optimal locations of sinks, gas valves, hood systems, emergency showers, demonstration tables, electrical outlets, smartboards, projectors, computers, and more
    • safety and security
    • construction schedules and other logistical considerations
Design of proposed revitalized classrooms and laboratories
Design of proposed revitalized classrooms and laboratories

(For a .pdf version of this design, please click here.)

What we present to the Colchester community is a collaboratively designed, comprehensive, well-thought-out, highly serviceable, and flexible plan to be considered for support on Town Meeting Day 2013. These labs will offer collegiate-level, professional-grade learning environments for the current and future students of Colchester High School.

We welcome and encourage your input. If you have questions or comments, please contact us by e-mail or by phone at (802) 264-5999.

Sketch of proposed revitalized classrooms and laboratories
Sketch of proposed revitalized classrooms and laboratories

(For a .pdf version of this sketch, please click here.)

Please vote on Tuesday, March 5.

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