Newark Science Park High School
This new science magnet high school will be a dynamic model of how technology can be utilized in educational delivery. It’s one of the first beneficiaries of a capital program spearheaded by a state construction program to build innovative new schools. In collaboration with a public/private partnership that includes the school district, regional universities and high technology industries, this facility was planned utilizing Instructional Technology Standards that define infrastructure, equipment to student ratios, maintenance standards, and alignment of technology resources to curriculum goals. These groundbreaking educational ideas are the way in which the new school will help foster social progress and the renaissance of this economically depressed area.
The heart of the high school will be an “Academic Village.” The project team created an environment that facilitates a student-centered and interdisciplinary teaching team approach, in a building that must also function as a community resource. Four distinct “neighborhoods” (Educational Learning Modules, or ELM’s) will each house a maximum capacity of 300 students. Each will comprise Home Base Classrooms, Science Labs, Teacher Planning, Lecture rooms and support spaces. These four ELM’s will be paired and located on the second and third floors around a central atrium space.
Ground floor support spaces are organized around the “Village Commons” at the base of the atrium. The Instructional Media Center (IMC) — the focal point of the school and the primary link to the community — sits adjacent. It’s directly accessible from the main entrance and clearly visible from the building exterior. Other functions include Administration, Student Support Services, and the Cafeteria.
Throughout the high school, Science Labs, Lecture, Seminar and Research rooms are all designed to maximize student-based inquiry. Fabrication areas with workstations provide for hands-on exploration of robotics, electronics and other technology based innovative processes. Multi-Media Labs, CAD and ITV areas will function as both communication production centers and as instructional areas for student and staff development. An Outdoor Habitat, designed with the assistance of the State Conservancy, will augment both Horticulture Lab-House and Art Studio areas.
To further support these activities, the Auditorium was designed to allow for large-event science demonstrations. Staff planning, development and mentoring areas will allow students’ easy access to school staff and visiting mentors.
The building’s exterior is intended to clearly communicate the use of the building as a science and technology high school, and as a community resource. Sustainable design features such as photovoltaic panels have been incorporated into the building aesthetic. Major building elements such as the ELM’s, IMC, Auditorium and athletic program spaces are prominently articulated as distinct masses. The educational program is expressed through the building form, captured in a rich staccato of contemporary architectural materials seamlessly mixed with structural and MEP systems components. It’s a stimulating vocabulary that begins to hint at the amazing opportunities for exploring science within.
The mission of this urban science magnet high school is to transform the teaching and learning of mathematics and science. It has been created to bridge the scientific and technological gap between the requirements for success in the state’s professional institutions and the performance of the local school district so that the city’s citizens may fully participate in the growing global economy. As a valuable and stable asset, the high school will also provide educational and recreational facilities to the local community. Its has been planned with the assistance of a renowned local Research Park comprised of regional universities, community organizations and high technology industries. By developing ethical leaders who know the joy of discovering the connections between mathematics, science, the arts, and the humanities lies the means to create exemplary laboratory and studio environments characterized by research, innovative teaching, and service.
The high school will be organized around a student/teacher core research programs. The primary goal is to foster the delivery of an educational program that utilizes the latest technology, and to implement a curriculum with an expanded emphasis on the sciences. This approach to teaching and learning calls for an integration of school subjects — an “Academic Village” that supports the convergence of the natural sciences, mathematics, and technology with the social and behavior sciences and the humanities into a coherent whole.
Central to the learning environment is the establishment of a home base for each student. Time will be in blocks, which allows for a comprehensive focus on problem solutions and project development. Students will be able to frame the question; design the approach; estimate the time and costs involved; calibrate the instruments; conduct trial runs; write a report; and finally, respond to criticism. Teachers will work in teams and support this extended, inquiring process — participating in each grade level in the planning of instruction to the extent that all students within their charge will be instructed by each individual teacher within their grade grouping.
Critical to building these skills of learning is the link between teaching science and using the school itself and the grounds as a hands-on laboratory to learn about sustainable design. Geothermal bore holes will be located over the playing fields and parking lots. Individual control zones are to be provided throughout the school. Energy recovery units will recapture exhaust air temperature to provide high energy savings and comfort. Variable frequency drives and high efficiency motors will be located throughout the various systems. Besides being able to observe first-hand how these systems operate, building controls for all of these will be accessible to students for analysis through “read only” computer stations.
From the development of this unity of knowledge, it will be possible for students to learn from different fields of study and to apply their experiences to the full range of human problems from all perspectives. As a magnet school focused on science, mathematics and technology, this high school will serve as a model for other urban school districts and for the nation. (500 words, 3258 characters)