By Reese Watterson

When Emerson was first built in 1980, the science classrooms were modern modern and had a lot of aspects that were good for the use of teachers and students, although the rooms were smaller than what was originally intended and that caused some plans to be changed. Now, 40 years later, the lab rooms are not only feeling cramped with additional students in classes, but out of date and the labs are in need of repairment to meet the science classrooms guidelines. So when the pandemic hit and there weren’t students in school, it was the perfect time to design and build new ones! Thanks to the people of Davis, who had voted to pass Measure M in 2018, the funding that was needed to build Emerson and DaVinci’s new science classrooms was gathered. The building and construction of the classroom began in the late 2019-2020 school year, after a lot of planning and designing. With the classrooms scheduled to be occupied by fall of 2021, the classrooms are well underway and have some significant changes that will modify the space and make it more useful for teaching. 

These new changes will include being able to configure the chairs and desks in different ways, as opposed to having them bolted to the floor. Many of the teachers have said that they will enjoy having the option to adjust and reconfigure the tables. A few science teachers have explained that the current layout of the classrooms, with tables built into the floor, had made some students have their back to their teacher when they are siting in chairs, which makes teaching that much harder. Ms. Shoemaker, a science teacher at Emerson, adds that, “With the new classrooms, we will be able to arrange the desks and chairs into different configurations as we need to for different classroom activities.” Now, the classrooms with have much more space and flexibility to move around and it will make teaching and learning much easier for everyone.

While the space of the classrooms was the main disadvantage of them, there are a few other improvements that will not only make the classrooms better for teaching, but will help with other issues, such as electricity and water. The old spaces have light, mostly from the artificial lighting, like lamps and other light sources, but more windows in the new classrooms will manage to cut down on electricity, while also making them have a more natural feel to them. Before the construction undergoing the science classrooms, there were some teachers that didn’t even have running water or sinks in their rooms, but the new rooms will add sinks, while prep rooms will also add to the experience of teaching, making it safer and more manageable. Another science teacher, Ms. Salim, said, “I always did hate the layout and lack of space”, and although she hasn’t taught any classes in the old science rooms she will be one of the teachers who will be spending time in them!

The old classrooms did have some nice qualities though. Ms. Nayyar, a science teacher, described that she liked the “science courtyard with garden space and greenhouse” and sadly those gardens might not be a part of the new classrooms at the beginning. However, Mr. Thomsen, the principal of Emerson, has said that “there will also be a courtyard area and we are looking at areas near that for a campus garden”, so those features may return after all! Another aspect of the old rooms was that they were somewhat connected to the main school, whereas the new ones will have to be two separate buildings altogether. This might not change much, besides the fact that students and teachers may have to walk further to get to their classes. Besides a few features that were beneficial to the use of the science classrooms, the new buildings will add much more to the layout and learning experience.

One of the important safety measures for students that are returning to school, even in the fall of 2021, is that students are able to sit a reasonable distance apart and have their own space to work. In the old classrooms this might not have been manageable, but the ones that are in progress  will be able to fit more students, with room in between. Ms. Shoemaker has said, “the new spaces are more open, so more students can sit in the room safely.” The new classrooms will contribute so much to the learning environment of the students at Emerson and DaVinci, now and in the future!

Blueprint: New Science Classrooms

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