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An ideal school environment would have spaces for students to listen to lectures, watch demonstrations, perform experiments, collaborate on projects, watch films, have access to technology and practice what they have learned, a consultant told the Derry Township School Board Monday night.

Carl Baxmeyer, director of the Solutions Group for Fanning Howey, gave an update on the ,000 facilities study his firm is conducting.

Baxmeyer said it is important for school layouts to be flexible to allow for the wide range of modalities of learning.

Even the cafeterias and hallways can be redesigned to help education, he said. The latest trend is everywhere, anytime learning.

Fanning Howey is an architecture, engineering and design firm based in Chicago which specializes in schools.

He suggested turning some computer labs into project based learning centers with flexible furniture.

Laboratories to foster science, technology, engineering and math can also be designed to be more flexible, for instance by having a sort of snorkel that can be lowered to use for gas for chemistry experiments, then moved out of the way when the room is needed for other purposes.

The district might even consider furniture for young kids that wobbles.

"Young kids like to fidget," he said. Studies have shown that rocking helps them focus."

Some needs the study has uncovered include more common areas in the primary and intermediate buildings, transforming the high school media center into a learning commons, more space for on-line learning and enhancing computer and science labs.

The Hershey campus has little wasted space now, which will create more of a challenge, Baxmeyer said. He has not yet placed any costs on some of the study's suggestions, but will do so.

The curriculum is migrating from 'sage on the stage' to blended learning, project based learning, even flipped classrooms, he said. This is a high performing district, and you want to keep looking into the future.

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