Jaws hit the floor as students and parents saw the new interactive learning spaces at All Saints Episcopal School.

All Saints hosted a back to school fair on Tuesday, showing families and students the new innovative learning spaces for students in pre-K through 12th grade.

The adventure begins as students at the lower school are greeted by towering cartoon trees, leading into the Collaboratory. The centerpiece of the lower school is a tree house filled with books. Students also can cozy up in cubbyholes while they read.

“Wow!” Emerson Hadnot, 9, said.

Emerson said he was surprised to see the campus so completely transformed in just the three months since summer break began. He and his little brother Paxton, 3, were ready to start class on Wednesday.

Their grandmother Brenda Shaw, a retired schoolteacher, watched as the boys explored the new play and learning spaces.

“I was in awe,” Shaw said. “Any kid would love to go to this library.”

Just outside the lower school sits Tiny Town, a new playground designed by last year’s sixth grade students. Head of School Mike Cobb said the students designed everything about the park, from budget and resource allocation to 3-D printing models of the playground.

Each year the sixth grade students will be tasked with identifying a problem or area of opportunity on campus and designing a solution from the ground up.

Just across from Tiny Town is the Learning Farm, where students will raise crops and tend chickens. They will help figure out uses for the food on campus, whether it’s cooking lessons in class or becoming a supplier for the upper classmen’s new café.

The Entrepreneur Café will give students a taste of running their own business. Students will design a menu, branding and sales pitches for the café and then hire personnel to run it. Cobb said more than 60 percent of the upper school students signed up to take part in the entrepreneur café.

The café is located in the busiest area on campus, right in the middle of the Center for Innovation, which was once the upper school library. The center includes a full fabrication lab, where students can make their own branding tools such as banners, plaques and 3D printed items, as well as a full media studio and a virtual reality lab.

The virtual reality lab and neighboring Idea Lab will allow students from around the world to connect, as well as give the school the opportunity to offer more classes such as Mandarin Chinese. Cobb hopes the new spaces will allow students opportunities to explore their passions.

“This is an example of a space we weren’t using well, now it’s enhancing our curriculum,” Cobb said. “I think with the way our society has changed, students no longer have those natural outlets.”

Freshman Surya Dasgupta found himself in disbelief as he took in the Center for Innovation.

“I am extremely, extremely excited,” He said. “I’m going to be able to experience this for all four years. I never imagined the library would become this.”

Dasgupta said he’s looking forward to using the new resources to figure out what he wants to do after high school.

Twitter: @TMT_Cory




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