Greenwood Elementary School
The fifth-graders were gaining valuable experience and expertise in the field of architecture, design and creativity.
In the new Innovation Space at Greenwood Elementary on a fall afternoon, the students were hard at work designing their dream houses. Working in teams, they plotted room layout and building design. The labored in teams at accessible, stand-up tables; they stretched blueprints across the floor and made additions to the plan; they traveled from station to station as they thought of new additions to make to their schemes.
The school’s newly refurbished Innovation Space was a perfect center of creation. The additions and improvements that launched at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year gave students more space and more room to collaborate, brainstorm and innovate. Along with additions to the school’s library as part of the project, this new room encapsulated a new kind of learning at Greenwood.
“It’s more efficient. This space is getting utilized a lot,” said Greenwood Principal Nicole DiPasquale. “We wanted to design a space that would be the best for our students, one that would encourage engagement and project-based learning. In this STEAM lab, our students are able to spread out and be creative; the level of engagement is huge.”
That much was clear as students used the room’s full potential to finalize their architecture projects. In the media center next door, kindergarteners sat on newly installed furniture for an engaging story time session with their teacher.
The additions have made all the difference for students like Kai Brinkman, a fifth-grader who was hard at work designing a five-story dream house.
“The tables are new, there’s more floor space. It’s easier to do engineering projects and STEAM projects,” Brinkman said, pointing to a design scheme that included pools, an aviary, a zip line and other features. “I love how much room I have in here to work.”
Similar spaces have gone up in every elementary and middle school in the Cherry Creek School District and came through funding approved by voters in 2016. The spaces are designed to develop skills like collaboration, inquiry, empathy, problem-solving, curiosity, innovative thinking and passion. According to the latest academic research, as well as firsthand input from parents, teachers and other members of the CCSD community garnered during the Cherry Creek 2021 initiative, these are the skills that are integral to preparing students for a 21st-century academic and professional landscape. This innovative approach to learning is also tied directly to the Instructional Excellence priority in Cherry Creek Future Forward, the district’s roadmap for maintaining educational excellence.
“We worked with business, we worked with industry and we worked with colleges when we created the focus of what our innovation spaces would be. The goal is helping our students become critical thinkers,” said CCSD Superintendent Dr. Scott Siegfried. “We want them to use knowledge in different ways, and we want them to learn to effectively learn to work with other people.” Siegfried added that every innovation space was designed to meet the unique needs of every separate school and community. “One of the greatest parts of our innovation work is allowing every school, every principal, every student and every community to be engaged in what innovation should look like at their school,” Siegfried said. “This is the next iteration of excellence.”
"Students are excited to have a maker space where they can think creatively about problems and projects and work with their peers in a unique way."
-Principal Nicole Dipasquale