Feb 6, 2018
The Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE)’s Mobile Learning Lab, conceived by teacher-leaders and built by students, will provide a one-of-a-kind learning space for schools around Sonoma County when it is completed this February.
Students from Rancho Cotate High School’s Engineering and Design program are building the lab from a basic 8-by 21-foot cargo trailer. The finished product will include a large-screen TV for multimedia presentations; solar panels to power the TV and other electronics; an extendable shade structure; seating for 30 participants; and much more.
Rancho Cotate Engineering and Design teacher, Cole Smith, said that ambitious and authentic projects like the Mobile Learning Lab motivate his students to really buy in and engage in something larger than themselves. Smith said that the learning his students take away from these large-scale team efforts tends to stick with them because the learning experience models real life.
The lab, when finished, can serve as an outdoor learning venue for students on a field trip, or as a pop-up lab for STEAM and maker activities at a school site. The lab can host professional learning experiences and allow teachers to meet in a variety of unique settings. Sonoma County teachers conceived the idea in 2015 as part of a project to reimagine professional development, called The Teacher’s Guild.
“Over and over again, teachers emphasized the power of an inspiring space and the need to get outside or off-site to engage in relevant, real-world applications of learning,” said SCOE Director of Teacher Development Sarah Lundy, who coordinated the Teacher’s Guild project in collaboration with the design thinking firm IDEO. “The need for developing pop-up spaces to allow for learning in dynamic settings that can energize and inspire teachers and students alike emerged as a powerful and actionable concept.”
From there, SCOE staff worked with the company One Workplace to design a mobile classroom that could accommodate learning opportunities beyond school walls.
The lab was built with financial and in-kind support from The Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools, Rancho Cotate High School, SCOE's Educational Support Services Department, and One Workplace.
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