"We all know that kids are naturally creative, inquisitive and hands-on learners. We also recognize that most of us as adult learners share these same traits. As we have spent a better part of the past few years trying to figure out how to create an environment where these traits can be fine tuned, re-crafted, built upon and utilized to drive learning, we have developed a vision of the Westmoreland model of a "maker space" type of environment.
Our vision was to construct an area where kids, adults and community members are able to imagine, research, design and create an idea, concept or vision of their own. It was important to us that we found ways to meet the various interests that people may have: technology, the arts, science, mathematics, engineering, and the humanities. In other words, we wanted an area where all people are able to explore their passions, whatever they may be.
This vision led us to the creation of a one-of-a kind area that we are calling the ZI3 (Zone for Imagination, Innovation and Inspiration). We have rethought existing space and retrofitted certain areas to help meet these creative needs. Although this space is located in the middle school, it is a K-12 space and hopefully will be used by everyone.
There are a number of "zones" that make up ZI3:
*The library, with a new entrance off the main hallway, that has been converted to a much more collaborative and comfortable think-tank. This zone is meant to encourage imagination.
*The computer lab has been redesigned to allow for things such as collaborative research, group work and video conferencing.
*The art room was moved to the first floor so that this studio is more accessible and an integral part of this vision. Folks are able to draw, sculpt, paint, etc.
*The old home and careers room is now the "productivity zone". This area has new equipment such as seven 3-d printers, a laser engraver, a CNC machine and two digitizers. In addition, the kitchen space has been redesigned and a textile area has been set-up.
*The technology room, which we'll be calling the "construction zone", was outfitted last year with new equipment and power tools.
The concept is that people will use the library as an area to imagine, think, research and envision. The computer area will be used to design, to continue to research and collaborate and to build upon that vision. People will then take that design and vision to one of the other zones to build and create. These spaces will certainly be available during the day for students and staff and we'll be creating programs a few nights a week for community members.
The ZI3 is unique to our district and your support, ideas and passion for this concept will make it the best hands-on learning environment anywhere."
We invite you to stop by the Middle School and we will be glad to show you all that ZI3 has to offer. More information will be coming soon!