Florida School Houses STEAM Labs in Shipping Containers

Florida School Houses STEAM Labs in Shipping Containers

A private college preparatory school in Florida has opened a new STEAM center on its campus using refurbished shipping containers. Maclay School in Tallahassee introduced three student lab centers, each with a different focus. The buildings, which share a courtyard of gardens, comprise the Beck Family Research Center (named in honor of lead donors, Mike and Kelly Beck). The research center is one component of the school's iTHINK (Individual, Technology, Hands-on learning, Innovation, Network, and Knowledge) Initiative.

The iTHINK labs, built by Sundog Containers, include individual units for:

  • The Marie E. Krafft Biomedical and Research Laboratory, which will house core sciences and biomedical concentrations; it was named in memory of a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Florida State University who also served on the school's board of trustees and mentored Maclay science students;

  • The Computer Science, Robotics, and Engineering Lab, which will house that set of concentrations; and

  • The Art, Inspiration and Design iTHINK lab, which will house a new concentration in art and design in the future.

Each lab includes technology, active learning furnishings and other equipment that will facilitate hands-on learning.

Each STEAM lab includes technology, active learning furnishings and other equipment that will facilitate hands-on learning. 

The new center also features a solar "smart flower." The SmartFlower is built from a set of solar panels that rotate to track the sun's position throughout the day, to maximize the amount of solar absorbed. The system will generate online data to be used by the students in their studies.

"We're adding innovative programs to stretch our students' critical thinking abilities and skills to collaborate across disciplines including the sciences and engineering," said Head of School, James Milford, in a statement. "These are the areas where Maclay has seen increased interest and growth among our students, reflecting the opportunities that await them in higher education and the workforce."

The school raised a million dollars to fund the new research center. Now it's setting its sights on a campaign to fund a 21,000-square-foot "Center for Innovation," which is expected to house additional "state-of-the-art" science labs for physics, biology, chemistry and robotics, along with other services and facilities.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.