Building a STEM facility at your school can be a daunting task, especially if you feel you are running behind the STEM wave. At Westlab, we are continually supporting schools across Canada to assist them in creating world-class STEM education facilities. In this article, we offer some ideas on how you can catch up with the great STEM movement.
It is a great idea to identify the support channels for STEM in your school. When we say support channels, we refer to the areas in which you’ll receive assistance in the creation of your STEM facilities. Is your management supportive of STEM? Management support and input will allow you to take your STEM proposal to a whole new level. A quality presentation of your proposal including schematics (drawings) and a detailed quotation is a good way to present your ideas to your management team. Westlab has a team that can assist you with a complimentary presentation.
What can your school afford to assign to STEM? Will you be building a whole new building? Are you a public school? Have you looked into any government incentives for STEM? It is worth looking for available grants in your province for STEM as this is strongly supported by government bodies in Canada. Do you have funds available for a new building? Will it be a refurbishment of an existing room? If you have very limited funds, it is a great idea to get your students involved in the design process as it is amazing what you can do with your existing space and existing furniture.
Do you have sufficient space to build your STEM facility? What subjects/lessons will you be superseding? Can you change this existing space to facilitate STEM? Consider a brainstorm session regarding your space requirements with your management team ensuring you keep class sizes and number of classes required in mind so to allocate sufficient space for your project.
Association with Experience
Find companies in your region that are experienced with STEM laboratory new builds or refurbishments. Speak to specialists and ask for ideas and links to recent projects. Cross-pollinate with schools that have recently built a STEM facility and ask about do’s and don’ts based on firsthand experience. Modulab Systems have a complimentary consultancy and design service available to give professional schematics and detailed estimations. Speak with someone familiar with process manufacturing (Lean Layout) to ensure efficiency and reduction of motion.
Execution with Agility
Plan well. Depending on the size of the project, make sure you evaluate builders and associated companies thoroughly through meetings and past-experience assessments. Make sure the company you work with is known for performing work to a high level of quality and on time. Speak with their recent clients and get experience ratings for confirmation. Assign a project manager to your project, this person can either be within your organization or an external consultant. They will be able to run projects from a centralized and transparent Gantt chart. Communicate regularly both horizontally and vertically to ensure a smooth and agile transition.