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What is a Media Lab?

I am thrilled to announce that I have accepted the job as director of the new Baden Academy Charter School Media Lab!  I will continue to build my company, Grow a Generation (and finish the book!), teach part time at Duquesne, and volunteer in various roles such as Beaver County STEM.  I now embark on a new adventure allied with a phenomenal new school.

I am already fielding the question; what is a Media Lab? I offer below some initial answers.  The answer will take a more concrete form as we transform an empty science lab into a room where students and faculty can inquire, experiment, discover, innovate, and bundle the fruition of their research efforts in ways that benefit the community and the world.

We are modeling the Baden Academy Media Lab after the MIT Media Lab. Several weeks ago I reviewed a book entitled Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner. Tony described a new educational model emerging at places like the MIT Media Lab, the d. school at Stanford, and the Center for Educational Technology at CMU.  The atmosphere of these schools includes an engineering mindset that gives students tools to create, research, build, test, package, and bring to fruition meaningful projects, projects that incorporate the standard’s based knowledge that is theirs to learn with real world needs.

Media finds its root in Latin, a root that also grew words such as “medium” and “mediate,” a root that implies the middle ground between the idea that erupts in one child’s imagination and the artifact that communicates that idea to others and transforms the world. Labs for this type of innovation are not only emerging on college campuses, they are finding their way into corporate environments. Google offices are known to be playful atmospheres where pods of collaboration easily form for outside the box thinking alongside clear objectives and key results that keep everyone on task.

The students of Baden Academy Charter School (particularly those identified as gifted) are the primary research fellows the lab is designed for. Each will have independent research projects in process and collaboratively be working on the design of the lab itself. Simultaneously, the lab will be a place for teachers to experiment and master new digital teaching tools. Teachers will be given the tools, space, and help to build lesson components that make learning in their classroom as hands-on and interactive as possible. Finally, the lab hopes to be a resource for the entire community with space for small group innovation, educational training, or research presentations.

The adventure begins.  I challenge the Grow a Generation community – “What would you put in a new Media Lab?”  I encourage you to post comments on the Grow a Generation website or Facebook page!

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