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Building STEM from the ground up at Hull Prairie Intermediate

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Last June, Perrysburg broke ground on an ambitious new school. From the very beginning, they’ve been laying the foundations for STEM thinking.

Today, over 800 5th and 6th graders are building a new culture of creativity, collaboration, and excitement in the $29 million facility.

“Every space is designed to have multiple purposes,” explained Principal Scott Best on a recent school tour. Students are welcome to write on the glass walls of every classroom. Teachers are encouraged to take advantage of huddle spaces in the hallways for group work.

Hull prairie walls Hull Prairie huddle

“We want our kids to own this building,” said Kadee Anstadt, Assistant Superintendent. So, the students helped create it. During construction, students in the Junior Builder program worked in collaboration with contractors from Gilbane for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Students learned the reasoning behind countless architectural decisions from the designers and workers themselves. When the community open house rolled around, students became the experts, leading tours for over 1,200 community members.

Anstadt emphasized that, while the facility is beautiful, even small changes can support students’ STEM mindset. On the teaching side, she was clear: “We invest in teachers, not programs.” Teachers have received PBL training, and regularly get time to plan with each other. Teachers also stay with their students for the whole two years at Hull Prairie, cycling from 5th to 6th grade along with them. Partnerships with the Toledo Zoo, First Solar, Owens-Illinois, Gilbane, and others signal a promising future of real world problem solving for the students and teachers alike.

scott bestPrincipal Best was impressed by how a small change in furniture changed how students learned. Eschewing traditional rows of desks, open spaces and modular seating can excite students, increasing collaboration and teamwork. To see for yourself, he suggested a visit. Whether a school is retrofitting an older building or breaking ground themselves, some experienced perspectives can help.

After that? “Put together one room, just to see how the kids use it,” said Best. “That was the smartest thing we’ve ever done.”

Scroll through the slideshow below to see a few of Hull Prairie’s innovative spaces. Hull Prairie students, if you’d like to tag yourself in a picture, head over to our Facebook ablum about this visit: https://www.facebook.com/OhioSTEM/posts/2141559895869825 

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