The Duncan Public Schools Foundation (DPSF) will soon get their timeline going for the new STEAM Lab/Innovation hub building at the Duncan High School. This will take the old existing art building from damaged and under used, to a place of cutting edge education in Science, Technology, Engineering, (Arts) and Math (STEM/STEAM).
The building reinvention got a big jump start with two donations from the Opal Lowry Trust and Halliburton Charitable Foundation that were made in February of this year.
Haylee Root, DPSF director, was excited for the project.
“This new facility will include a STEM Lab, Robotics Room, Fabrication Lab, collaborative work spaces and, of course, the arts,” she said. “Our goal is to be completed with Phase 1 by the beginning of Fall classes, which includes the art room renovations. Those will be the top priority, since students will have to return to those classrooms.”
The DPS board of Education approved the renovation license agreement April 29 for the building. Permits went out that day to get everything done on the ambitious timeline.
“That’s a really tight timeline and we know that. Hope Construction is doing it for us, Ken Shaw is over them. He is a Duncan graduate, he is super proud to see this project happen, he’s excited about it. He is going to push to try and get everything done on time.”
Root said the school has the empty parts of the building cleaned out and the arts rooms being used will start to move out on the last day of school on May 23.
“The existing bus barn can’t change right now, although we’d love to have that space, we don’t have anywhere for the bus barn to go,” she said.
The new building design takes the access to the classrooms from straight outside to hallways to get into the classroom making the building have one main door. Root said this design will help stop the water pooling problems the current building had.
“These art rooms will not only be modern and state-of-the-art but also they’ll have ample storage,” Root said. “They will have a bigger collaborative work space for the kids just to do art and there will be some moveable panels here (between rooms) just so if they want to do a bigger project either school wide or bring parents in for art now.”
The other area to be done with the art classrooms is bathrooms.
“Currently the bathrooms in this building, they don’t even work, they are shut down,” Root said. “That’s not good for our kids because they are having to go to other buildings just to use the restroom. There is also going to be a handicapped toilet added.”
The southern half of the “L” spaced building isn’t being used much. Root said sometimes the drama class will use the area but it is gutted. Root said the District STEM coordinator will have an office in the building to help facilitate the use of the building, labs areas and more.
“No one person will have their class there everyday,” she said. “The hope is that everyday someone (new) will hold classes over here.”
There will be the shop area, labs, graphic design and one office will go.
“There will be a ‘shop’ area where there will be (tools) and there is fabrication rooms where they can actually make these things happen or do robotics,” she said. “There is also smaller conferences areas for students to work together in smaller groups.”
Root said the donations and other funds have helped the lab get some of the shop tools there where others that could be fundraised or donated by the public.
“Some wish list items for our Fabrication Lab within our new Innovation Hub included
3D Printers, Laser Cutters, Vinyl Cutters, Milling Machines, 3D Scanners and Engravers,” she said.
This lab will be an important jewel for the district.
“This is important not only to our kids to give them more opportunities and help them explore career paths that they really can’t understand from a textbook perspective,” Root said. “This will let them have hands on learning — hand-in-hand with what we are doing with our elementary kids with Project Lead The Way now, they are going to come and apply in High School in the lab right there.”
A well trained workforce or student with a strong foundation for higher education is the top goals for the lab/innovation hub.
“It really all boils down to economic growth and development in Duncan,” she said. “This, along with our Project Lead The Way implementation, brings us even closer to being a top STEM school.”
For more information or to donate visit the DPSF website at www.duncankids.org.