Buzz on Campus: The Keim Center for Innovation and Research

Buzz on Campus: The Keim Center for Innovation and Research
  • Makers
Mary Kornegay

The new facility has already become a hub of campus activities, with classes making use of the lab and classroom spaces and other stopping in for study hall, meetings and snack breaks.

Ravenscroft’s new Keim Center for Innovation and Research, which opened to students and faculty on Monday, Aug. 27, has already become a hub of campus activities, with several classes making use of the lab and classroom spaces and many other students, faculty and staff stopping in for study hall, meetings and snack breaks.

The Upper School’s new Robotics elective, with sections taught by Nelson Nunalee and Lorre Gifford, moved to the Keim Center right after its opening. Nunalee said students have been excited to use the new Innovation Lab, which offers an open and flexible workspace perfectly suited for collaboration.

“Although we have only scratched the surface of possibilities with the Machine Lab in the back, it has been really useful to have a wide variety of tools — hand-selected by Buildings and Grounds director Chris Farrow — at our disposal,” Nunalee said. “I’m excited about moving my Honors Engineering sections to the Keim Center later this fall.”

“My Robotics students are most certainly enjoying the Keim Center as their space to develop both coding skills and real-time applications of the engineering design process,” Gifford added.  “But I think I am most excited about the possibilities that the Keim Center presents for my [college prep] physics classes. In the next few weeks, these students will use the center to test the effects of various distractions on drivers and, in doing so, will form conclusions based on the experimental evidence that emerges. Projects like these have the ability to change habits and save lives!”

Anna Lawrence’s Upper School computer science courses are also being held there. She said the Center’s thoughtful design and use of technology contribute to her students’ progress and enjoyment.

“The wireless projection and whiteboards in the classroom make it easy to use different facilitation techniques. With the larger screen, each student has a good seat in the classroom to watch videos or demonstrations,” she said. “Students have also enjoyed the opportunity to use the breakout spaces for projecting and working on whiteboards. They have the ability to utilize the tools and spaces around them as fits their needs.

“I really like the glass walls,” she added, “because it feels collaborative to watch others working around us in the space outside of the classroom. It feels inviting as well, since people can look in and see a class in action. The ability to watch a class may inspire others to take the class or to ask someone about what they’re learning.”

Inspiration is at the heart of another class meeting in the Keim Center, Sarah Loyola’s Innovations class, a new elective in which students design and develop a project related to an area they’re passionate about.

“I am doing a lot of ‘spark’ activities to inspire students to think about their futures,” Loyola said, “Amelia Wall, a Lower School parent and successful entrepreneur, came to speak to the class about her experience in the marketplace and to do a visionary activity with them.”

Many Ravens have been drawn in by the new café, which offers treats including iced coffee, smoothies, and pre-made bakery and deli foods, and the comfortable seating that accommodates both individuals and small groups, whether they’re working or relaxing during a break. The new Genius Lab, helmed by Alix Charles and a talented group of Upper School students, provides help with Ravenscroft technology. 

In her remarks at the Keim Center’s ribbon-cutting, Head of School Doreen Kelly said to the assembled students and teachers, “The Keim Center provides an environment where you can have ongoing circles of exchange in social spaces, collaboration spaces, research spaces and hands-on creation spaces.”

It’s a sentiment faculty working in the Keim Center echo.

“How wonderful it is to be a part of a learning community that understands and values the importance of providing students with opportunities to be innovators, exercise creativity and engage in the habits of mind associated with science, technology and engineering practices,” Gifford said. “It’s one thing to recognize and support STEM+ initiatives; it’s quite another thing to provide a dedicated space for STEM+ initiatives and their execution. This is, indeed, an exciting time!”

Would you like to share your expertise and insight with the Innovations or STEM+ classes in the Keim Center? Email us for more details!