Lead with what’s going to interest people the most to capture your audience…

With that in mind, please join us at Needham High School’s DaVinci Lab tomorrow, Saturday March25th, from 9:00 am – 10:30 am for several student presentations of the work they are doing in this interdisciplinary facility.

Technically, tomorrow morning’s event is one of our periodic School Committee Open Houses, so we will be very pleased to meet and hear from you on anything that’s on your mind. We have had some very good conversations at these open houses. But I am realistic – we’re not likely to be the reason hordes of Needham residents get out of bed early on a Saturday morning. That said, the students and the work going on in the Da Vinci lab are great reasons to visit Needham High School tomorrow morning.

This is a very appropriate time for a visit. Earlier this week, the designers working on the High School design study presented proposed designs and estimated costs for the much-needed High School classroom expansion.

12+ years ago, shortly before I joined the School Committee, I reviewed the plans for the High School renovation in my role as Chair of the Town’s technology committee. I was adamant on the importance of having at least a couple of larger, unprogrammed spaces. My argument was based on technology, but I was really thinking about teaching and learning. We couldn’t know how we’d be teaching five, ten or twenty years in the future. But looking at the leading edge of technology then – large scale displays and visualization, immersive video and telepresence – you could envision learning environments that needed a larger space than the traditional classroom.

At least one such space was in the design. Since the building was completed, that space was preserved, even as other areas were divided and converted to meet increasing enrollment. Fortunately, we were able to build the Da Vinci lab in that space – with generous support from the NEF, PTC Corporation and others.

In the proposed designs for the classroom expansion, you won’t see a large undesignated space like that. That wouldn’t be practical in this type of project. But with those ideas in mind, you will see two additional benefits of the project:

  • collaboration space that has been creatively carved out of unused space. It’s there because collaboration has a similar role today – something important that is transforming learning and work.
  • reduced pressure on all the other space in the school; not enough to permit the creation of a new “open space” that could become the Da Vinci lab of 2025; but enough, perhaps, to provide some breathing room for more innovation.
Student presentations at the Da Vinci Lab (oh, and the School Committee too)