The third in our series of articles about the four key learning zones – distinct areas designed for specific learning tasks - looks at a space designed for exploration. Creating zones for specific tasks helps anchor the learning in the long term memory and primes behaviour appropriate to the space, which in this case is practical hands-on exploring and experimenting.
By creating a zone where exploration is encouraged, an environment designed to support experimentation, you can encourage self-directed learning that embraces the spirit of discovery. While free-thinking is encouraged in the Explore zone, this is a highly organised space where every piece of kit has a specific home so it’s easy to check that all the equipment has been safely returned.
The Explore zone is an active zone replete with all the kit (and storage) to encourage learners to be inquisitive and experimental. Great for self-directed, hands-on, practical learning this adaptable space could become a STEM / STEAM studio, Makerspace, Tech Lab, Robotics Studio, Workshop… whatever your students need to discover and learn.
What it’s for:
Build, dismantle, create, model – set the task and let your students come up with their own solution. This space is for problem-solving at its most absorbing. From building robots to designing and making a game or toy, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
Super-organised storage with drawers, shelves, pegboards and trays plus integrated power and data mean there’s no time wasted finding equipment or figuring out where to plug it in. A soft seating area can be incorporated for briefings, presentations or reflection sessions. Writable whiteboard surfaces on workbenches and screens provide useful space for figuring out ideas – a quick digital photo can capture any outputs you want to keep.
Why it works: the neuroscience bit
The workshop aesthetic primes students to through associative memory and encourages exploratory and creative behaviour. The natural imperfections of the work surface will prime students to focus less on perfection and more on innovation.
If you’d like help designing an Explore zone for your classroom, we’d be delighted to help!
Next time we’ll look at Learning Zone #4: Reflect.