McHenry School District 15 builds STEM labs, Innovation Centers for students

McHENRY – Legos are typically seen as a fun toy, but they also can be used for serious, engineering-related projects, a McHenry School District 15 official said.

That’s why District 15 is letting its students work on projects using Lego Education kits and software.

“Through a grant, District 15 recently purchased Lego Education products, which let our students engage in hands-on learning activities and create innovative projects together,” said Fred Laudadio, District 15 executive director of learning services and technology.

By adding the Lego Education products, the district is preparing children for real-world experiences while allowing them to show off their creativity.

“It’s additions like this that make District 15 so unique,” Laudadio said.

And these Lego Education products aren’t the only updates to the district’s media labs. In August, the district finished transforming its middle schools’ technology labs into STEM labs and STEAM studios.

“We’re excited to bring both these kind of labs to McHenry Middle School and Parkland Middle School,” Laudadio said. “The new STEM and STEAM labs are allowing students to work on more science-, technology-, engineering-, arts- and math-related projects in a team environment.”

The district started implementing these labs at the sixth- through eighth-grade levels before adding innovation centers to the elementary schools. Along with the new STEM labs, the district also recently added video production hubs to the middle schools, which allow students to produce educational videos, broadcast sporting events and develop promotional content.

“Now that most these labs are completed, it’ll be very cool to see what students are able to do, because it gives them more chances to work on real-world projects,” Laudadio said.

The elementary schools’ new Lego Education products were made possible by a $63,000 Title I grant. As for the middle schools’ new STEM labs, STEAM studios and video production hubs, these renovations were not grant-funded but were a part of the district’s summer construction project.