2020 gives way to a decade of possibilities! As we create new resolutions, set goals, and of course, seek out new design trends, we know that schools are looking at furniture as a way to move toward a higher level of learning. Just as our personal lives may need refreshing, educational environments deserve the same kind of attention. When was the last time your facility was updated?
The trend for 21st Century Learning has architects and designers building classroom designs and furniture around these common buzzwords: Collaboration, Movement, Mobile, Nesting, Flexible, Functional, and Comfortable. Today’s students require a collaborative environment that allows them to stand or sit, swivel or lean, move and collaborate. Classrooms are adapting to the future with combinations of nesting tables, desks, soft seating, mobile storage, shaped, and pneumatic furniture. The Larson Equipment and Furniture Company offers excellence in design by collaborating with innovative manufacturers to better serve the needs of students and teachers in this modern climate.
Traditional classroom designs are traced back to the 1800’s. The “old school” hard plastic desk and chair combo is no longer conducive to today’s learning requirements. Teachers are no longer standing at the front of the room, writing on a chalkboard. Rather than teacher-centric whole class instruction, the trend has moved toward a mix of whole class, small group, and individual learning. According to EdTechMagazine, “In the last few years, education experts have begun to explore how classroom design, as well as furniture, influence how students learn.” Selecting furniture that empowers educators and engages students is the key to providing the best learning environment in the classroom.
Our economy demands a return to skilled labor and is dedicated to increasing the number of students participating in STEM and STEAM curriculum throughout 2020. It’s a wise investment for school districts to allocate their budgets toward refreshing classrooms, media centers, labs, and tech areas. Learning has accelerated rapidly toward newer ways to engage students through project-based education and hands on collaboration. Students who might not otherwise participate are now demonstrating more engagement and eagerness to use the school’s resources and learn higher level tech skills that will translate to trade careers in society. Students now require spaces that are as dynamic as the content they are learning.
As you re-evaluate your learning environments in this new decade, here are a few important aspects to keep in mind…
The STEM innovative program has been an important component of students’ curriculum for almost 20 years now. The shift toward STEAM is a hot topic among educators. This model already focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), but in recent years has included the Art component to create STEAM. Schools are using this concept to best prepare students for higher learning and entering the economy of the 21st Century with a focus on STEAM careers such as Computer Programming, Architecture, Web Design, Civil Engineering, Animators, and more. “Educators know that in order for today’s students to be college and career ready, they need to develop 21st Century Skills including collaboration, creativity, and communication. Finding authentic ways to accomplish this in a classroom setting can be challenging. Makerspaces lend themselves to developing these skills in organic and productive ways.”
- Is your classroom visually appealing? Students are more engaged with colorful, comfortable and flexible furniture that allows for better collaboration with peers and improved comfort. Furniture needs to be designed in a variety of colors and sizes to fit every grade level. Bright blues, greens, orange and red are popular brain-stimulating choices.
- Are your STEAM labs, otherwise known as “Maker Spaces” functional? Modern labs are now designed with technological devices in mind, such as green screens and drones. Depending on the needs of each room, they might work more effectively with permanent or temporary storage, lockers, display shelving and functional maker space. Sometimes it may require a mix of everything. “One of the goals of any makerspace should be to instill the maker mindset in students through a series of creative experiences while simultaneously building 21st-century skills.”
- Does your school keep up with innovative tools for lab time? Laser cutters, CNC mills, and 3-D printers are just a few of the tools that students require for success. We partner with Palmer Hamilton to provide Phablab. Palmer Hamilton is a leading industry manufacturer, who has the machinery as well as Inventor Cloud curriculum. PhabLab combines design process with technology, emphasizing creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, collaboration and effective communication.
Think of Media Centers of today as traditional libraries, but on steroids. Say goodbye to tall shelving, square tables, and wooden materials. Libraries have moved from quiet places to more collaborative environments. Many local libraries have also made a pitch for rebuilds as well so that they are more attractive to the community. Offering maker spaces to the families provides resources to those who might not otherwise have the opportunity.
- Does your school media center still feature traditional square wood tables, seating only 4 students? Flexible furniture, bright colors, lower, curved, portable shelving, flip top tables, mobile chairs, stools, soft seating, media stations and modern circulation desks are driving the market. The space needs to be friendly, inviting, and comfortable. School libraries and media centers need to be designed as collaborative and communal work spaces for children to learn and explore. The learning center is designed for hosting classes, board meetings, group instruction, PTA meetings, study time, and yes, a space to be able to read a book quietly. Multi-functionality requires a fresh perspective on setting up the area to best serve its educators, students, and the community.
- Is your library tech-friendly? Digital Resources means that more students might be reading from a mobile device and there are actually less physical books in the library. More laptops and tablets, fewer notebooks and textbooks. Does your school library provide enough power hubs for students to plug in as they study? What about plugging in their laptop as they work on a homework assignment? Our manufacturers design furniture that has power hubs seamlessly integrated right into the soft, flexible structures.
For over 75 years, The Larson Equipment and Furniture Company has provided cutting edge products to the educational as well as corporate, healthcare, worship, and public industries. Our commitment to our clients is to be on the forefront of leading technologies, providing excellence in quality and performance in all industries. We proudly serve a prestigious list of clients throughout Illinois, Northern Indiana and Southern Wisconsin. Serving over 800 school districts in the area, Larson has come to be regarded as the expert in enhancing the educational environment of children.
21st Century learning environments demand flexibility, adaptation and the latest resources to give our students a competitive edge and a brighter future. Teachers are requesting environments to encourage students to assess a situation and use creative problem solving skills, then implement a solution. As Albert Einstein said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” If your school district is still using wooden tables, dull colors, or the single student desk/chair combos, the time has come for change!