The question might not occur to the general public, but to those who design schools and teach in them, the answer is pretty significant.
STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) jobs are in high demand and account for nearly 40 percent of all high-skill jobs being created. To account for this demand, schools are updating curricula to emphasize STEM. This change in learning goes beyond lesson plans to the actual classroom settings.
In STEM-focused schools, collaboration and hands-on learning are important elements of the lesson plan. These schools have flexible, collaborative spaces for group projects or individual study, such as at Ben Milam Elementary in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Collaborative spaces can also be outside, as they are at Lady Bird Johnson Middle School in Irving, Texas, where science projects are about the solar and wind energy-producing equipment that produce the school’s power.
Hands-on experiences play an important role, as does the concept of clean and messy. “Clean” rooms are places for technology and experiments, similar to lab settings, while “messy” rooms are places for creation and trying new things; an opportunity to literally get your hands dirty.
The halls and common areas of STEM-based schools can be designed to stimulate and reinforce learning taking place within the classroom. This could include astronomy displayed on the ceiling or viewing cases filled with demonstrations.
In addition, these STEM schools have spaces suitable for career and tech education preparation programs done in partnership with local businesses so that the programming is shaped by the community’s economic needs.