The STEM lab is an amazing industrial tech space that gives students the feeling they can achieve anything at high standards—and the space offers the tools to do just that.
Designed for the Future
Storm Lake Early Elementary School is the embodiment of the intentional criteria established by key stakeholder groups and our planning and design team. The design is clean, methodical, fun, and child centric. It offers a variety of spatial types to meet the changing needs and wants of students. It’s a school that pushes the needle to future-facing education for the community and all kids.
Discovery & Exploration
During the visioning phase, stakeholders voiced strong support for more specialized learning opportunities. This vision comes to life in the flexible and adaptable spaces found throughout the building. Expansive spaces such as the commons and gymnasium cater to large crowds, while breakout spaces outside classrooms are perfect for smaller groups. Grade-level classroom neighborhoods are organized around a flexible discovery area that provides additional educational space for students. These open, technology-filled discovery areas take on a unique and identifiable character for each neighborhood.
Adjacent to the media center are three garage doors that open to a STEM lab, a space that inspires and instills the confidence students need to experiment and fail in order to learn. For these students, this is the first introduction to science and other STEM curriculum. The hands-on lab allows young learners to explore and ‘see’ themselves as a scientist, a potential career that could have seemed out of reach for some students in previous years.
Nod to Nature
The spatial layout of the building, the visual connection to the outdoors, and the materials, textures, and colors reinforce natural exploration. Our design abstracts natural elements into formal elements at the building, leveraging local components of lake, dock, lighthouse, and campfire. The movement of metal panel and brick patterning on the building showcase water, while the front entry with columns and materiality represent the dock. Clerestory elements create the lighthouse and outdoor learning spaces represent the campfire.
Pivoting the Plan
Following an unsuccessful bond referendum in 2018, community members called for a change in the plan. They weighed options to determine the best path forward, which is a phased approach to deliver an early elementary school (rather than a dedicated early childhood center) that would eventually serve students in Pre-K to first grade. This option allows the community to fund smaller sections of the facility over a longer time frame, responsibly managing the incremental tax increase ask of community members.