Beechwood High School, Fort Mitchell, Kentucky

IDEA Lab: Innovation, Design, Engineering and Application
By: | January 6, 2019
District Name: Beechwood Independent Schools
District State: Kentucky
District Website: beechwood.kyschools.us

Beechwood High School found a way to teach kids to think strategically, build resilience and grow academic engagement—all while creating real-world products and solutions. Administrators established the IDEA Lab, which stands for innovation, design, engineering and application.

The district had designed problem-based seminars to give students opportunities to devise concepts and create solutions, but found the seminars lacked a hands-on aspect that could add depth to learning.

“We knew that our seminar course needed more tools to help the products of the course match the excellence of the curriculum,” says Ben Lusk, curriculum director.

Beechwood’s principal developed a proposal for a makerspace, which earned an $80,000 grant from an education foundation. The district ponied up additional funds after the board of education’s approval, Lusk says.

The IDEA Lab houses 3D printers and scanners, interactive displays, vinyl cutters, and other machinery to create a hands-on, collaborative atmosphere, says Lusk.

“We needed a space and a curriculum that allowed us to begin the journey to making innovation our new tradition,” Lusk says. Students now use technology to develop solutions to real-world problems.

The vision for the future? “We want the concepts of this programming and IDEA Lab to not be contained in a room,” Lusk says. “We want to incorporate strategic thinking, resilience, fearlessness, excellence and growth into all grade levels.