Sunday, November 4, 2012

Opening a new school

During the last 2 years we have been planning the move from EC Drury High school to a new building called Craig Kielburger Secondary School. Last June we packed our classrooms into boxes and during August and September we've been unpacking and setting up. The construction crew left just a week before classes started and you could still see their dusty footprints on the floor on the first day of classes. The last few weeks have been a daily dose of 'real world' meets 'architects dreams'.
   The move from EC Drury to Craig Kielburger Secondary School, CKSS, was a rare one in that the board closed the whole school and moved the entire staff, all the programs and most of the books, computers, basketballs and paint brushes to the new building. The good old Drury culture has been rebranded as the new CKSS culture. This has allowed us to concentrate on the physical space since most of our procedures, rules, ongoing discussions and chemistry are already in place. The old school was physically integrated with the EC Drury School for the Deaf. That building is old and small, spread out over several buildings on a campus. The School for the Deaf is still there and the old high school classrooms are temporary housing for elementary students. Milton is growing so fast that they can't build elementary schools fast enough to house all the students. The new CKSS building is a single modern structure with a beautiful 2 1/2 story main hallway full of flags and a living wall, a triple gym, a nice theatre and lots of warm sunlight everywhere.
   Plans to move the 'Robotics Lab' at Drury to the new digs at CKSS started a couple of years ago with the architect drawing up the plans. The 1500 square foot Drury lab could not be replicated and so it was replaced with a computer lab right next to a 'lab' featuring a passage door between the 2 classrooms. I'm not sure if I want to continue calling the new lab 'Robotics'.  Hacker-Space, Engineering Lab, Maker Lab and Digital Hub are other names that spring to mind. The main idea is that the 'lab' is a flexible space that can be modified on the fly depending on the subject and work being done that period. The mini machine shop at Drury did not make it however a couple of the machines, the engine lathe and the vertical mill have been set up in the new AutoBody shop at CKSS. The spacious old storage closet was forgotten so we created the same amount of storage by replacing the architects puny shelves with full size kitchen cupboards in both rooms. The cupboards were manufactured by our own students last spring. The 'lab' houses our CNC Router, CNC mill and a newly refurbished CNC lathe. We have compressed air for cleaning and powering a solder extraction station. The work benches have been moved in along with our Smart Board.
   Today we are able to run Technological Design and Computer Technology classes in the same period, switching the classes between the 2 rooms depending on the type of work the students need to do that day. Students in the "lab" have access to 12 laptops and a few old desktop computers.

This is the Computer lab:
This is the "Lab":
   Its a new building and new classrooms but the program remains unchanged. The students in our ICT SHSM program are earning CISCO certifications as a part of their high school program. The grade 12 Computer Studies class is learning to program games for the XBox. They are as keen as ever to continue their learning and enjoy working in the new rooms as much as they did in the old. On Friday I was still unpacking boxes so the place still feels unfamiliar to me. I guess its just a matter of time (and a few more minor modifications like paint on the cupboards) and a name. What do you think? Robotics? Hacker? Maker? Hub? Engineering?

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