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Parents and Community Come Together To Build Innovation Center for Students

Parents and Community Come Together in Chagrin Falls To Build Innovation Center for Students

Chagrin Falls Educational Foundation unveils plan for new Innovation Center to help better prep students for college and beyond

There will soon be a place where students in the Chagrin Falls Exempted Village Schools will thrive in a new, flexible learning environment.  They will be able to research, collaborate, and innovate using a space that integrates technology, promotes creativity and encourages students to reach beyond traditional educational boundaries. A parent-led initiative is underway to build a flexible learning environment called the Innovation Center.  Set to open this fall, the 4,300 sq. ft. center for students and teachers in grades 7-12, will integrate technology and creativity and promote designed thinking that aims to reach beyond traditional education boundaries. Aspects of the center will also support students K– 8 through Project Lead the Way STEM and robotics programming.  Parents and the community of Chagrin Falls, under the guidance of the Chagrin Falls Educational Foundation, are working together to raise the funds needed to construct the new space, once again demonstrating the dedication and overwhelming support this community has for its students and teachers.

“Chagrin Falls is fortunate to have a bright, engaged student body who will benefit from this unique space, and a faculty who is eager to employ new methods of teaching,” said Meg Nachtwey, president of the Chagrin Falls Educational Foundation and chairperson of the Innovation Center committee. “This space will support teachers and students in all disciplines to research, collaborate and create in groups — deepening the learning experience.”

The most recent school district strategic plan stresses flexible learning and an individualized education for each and every student in the district.  “The vision for this space grew out of that plan,” said Nachtwey.  “We are grooming researchers, collaborators and creators by providing the space for this progressive approach to teaching and learning.”

What is the Innovation Center?

Many schools and universities are incorporating centers such as this one into their campus and curriculum (e.g. Case Western Reserve University’s think[box]). The goal of the Innovation Center is to push students to reach beyond traditional educational boundaries. As a district, Chagrin Falls Exempted Village Schools’ most recent strategic plan stresses flexible learning and individualized education for every student in the district. This space is in direct response to the plan as everyone from the school board, to the teachers to leadership understands they are grooming future researchers, entrepreneurs and creators and it’s their responsibility to make every tool available to foster progressive learning.

Why is this needed?

Teaching and learning has rapidly changed in recent years – and will continue to do so. Today, most people are able to quickly find facts, figures and calculations with a few clicks. Thus, the need for memorization has been replaced with the need for deep understanding; connection of ideas and the ability to apply and transfer said ideas to other areas of practice. Students of today must be trained in these areas and challenged to develop strategies to collaborate, ideate, research and problem-solve. A dramatic paradigm shift in the role of educators has occurred, moving away from delivery of content to facilitation of deep understanding and synthesis of information for students. If students are not exposed to this type of learning and thinking, they are at risk for falling behind and not properly being prepared for college.

About 4,300 square feet of current classroom and library space in the current Chagrin Falls Middle School will be dedicated to the Innovation Center, allowing for the development of three distinct yet interconnected spaces to be used by students across grades 7-12.

Innovative lab development:

  • Research Center: a connected space for research, idea creation & study
  • Collaboration Classroom: a place for group discussion and interaction, with the use of technology to connect beyond the borders of Chagrin Falls
  • Fab Lab: a makersspace to bring the students’ ideas to life, with 3D printers, embroidery machines, laser cutters, tools and more

Project Lead the Way and Robotics Programming Implementation in K-6:

  • Tech labs at Gurney Elementary and Chagrin Falls Intermediate School will be outfitted to support Project Lead the Way STEM programming across grades K-6, as of 2016-17
  • Provision of Lego WeDo Robotics kits with connected sets of iPads for K-6 use

State-of-the-art technology for 7-12 Embedded STREAM growth:

  • Creation of an Apple Lab to support enhanced computer programming and visual design across the art department
  • Provision of additional technology to support student work in entrepreneurship classes
  • Provision of state-of-the-art video equipment to grow video production programming

Our community and school district value our rich tradition and multi-generational experiences,” said Robert Hunt, superintendent, Chagrin Falls Exempted Village Schools.  “While we value preserving the culture of our schools over time, we are reminded that we have always been a district committed to progressive and innovative approaches to learning.  We have and always will be committed to being responsive to the changing landscape of education and finding ways to most appropriately prepare our students.”

Under the direction of the Chagrin Falls Educational Foundation, parents and the community are working together to raise approximately $600,000 for the center. To help kick start fundraising efforts, Chagrin Falls’ parents Heather and Tim Ryan have donated $150,000 to the center, and will then match dollar-for-dollar up to $200,000.

Other initiatives include:

  • Chagrin Falls Schools boasts a highly involved alumni group and efforts are underway, including a Go Fund me campaign, to tap into this connected network.
  • A private VIP donor party will take place at M Italian on June 2. One of the goals of this party is to bring the Innovation Center to life so potential donors can experience it first-hand, including 3D printing, the use of robots to telepresence, famous Chagrin Falls alumni and much more.

For more information on how to become involved, please contact Meg Nachtwey at mpnachtwey2@roadrunner.com.  Donations are being accepted online at www.chagrinfallseducationalfoundation.org or send a gift to CFEF, PO Box 235, Chagrin Falls, Ohio  44022.    Tours of the future space are available upon request.

Impact on Teaching and Learning:

Here’s how Chagrin Falls’ teachers can already envision its use:

Middle School Math teachers will use the space to create 3D models as they study surface area and volume; the Collaboration Station will support the collaborative nature of the CPM math program.

7-12 Science teachers will seize the opportunity to use the Collaboration Station to engage in virtual science labs and interact with scientists in the field.

Middle School World Language and Social Studies teachers will use the Collaboration Station to Skype with historians, museum curators, archaeologists in the field, and classes of students throughout the world to study various regions and historical periods; students will be able to engage in remote field trips to ancient ruins and historical sites.  Small group research relative to specific topics of study will be able to seamlessly occur using the small group research meeting rooms within the Iteration and Research Station.

7-12 Enrichment – the Creation Station will provide a workspace for invention prototype development related to Invention Convention, interdisciplinary grade level projects (like the Crime Lab reconstruction), development of Robotics programming, and a space for after-school clubs, like Destination Imagination and Science Olympiad to engage in construction and problem-solving.  The connected spaces within the Innovation Lab will allow work to flow through centers as needed, in a very organic and fluid way.

7-12 Entrepreneurship and HS Business/Marketing classes will maximize use of the Collaboration and Creation centers through: design and brainstorming access to software that supports this (i.e. Sculptris) development of prototypes for product designs, design and manufacturing of logos as a part of a student-run business, and creation of advertisements and commercials for products; the connected Collaboration Station and Iteration & Research Station will allow each student and/or group of students to work through problem-solving at their own pace, access relevant software (i.e. Tinkercad, Pinnacle, etc.),  and flow across the spaces which meet their needs in a personalized way during the class period (and beyond).

High School Chemistry teachers will use the Innovation Center to foster deep problem-solving and hands-on exploration in the study of molecular geometry through the creation of models of compounds via 3D printing and/or manipulative building.

AP Physics teachers will use the Innovation Center to support student development of in-class hands-on projects, such as construction of roller coasters (to study energy), use of bumper cars (to study force/momentum), and development of Rube Goldberg machines (final cumulative project) in AP Physics 1 and student design and construction of models of electrical fields, equipotential lines, and V fields in AP Physics 2 High School Art teachers will use the Innovation Center to support student design and brainstorming with access to software that supports this (i.e. Sculptris), followed by immediate connection to space to  foster students in:  creation of 3D models of architectural designs and character face and body designs, development of watercolor woodblock prints,  refinement of projects to cut difficult or organic shapes for wood projects, creation of negative space wood votives, development and refinement of mixed media projects, development and enhancement of jewelry-making and sculpture projects via laser-cutter capabilities.