Deer Lakes aims to ‘launch’ new uses for intermediate school library |
Valley News Dispatch

Deer Lakes aims to ‘launch’ new uses for intermediate school library

Emily Balser
Emily Balser | Tribune-Review
Meghan Bright sits in the library at East Union Intermediate Center on Thursday, March 28, 2019, before it’s renovated into a STEM-friendly learning space.

Deer Lakes School District’s East Union Intermediate Center plans to transform its library into an interactive space where students can work together on projects using high-tech STEM equipment and still do traditional reading and research there.

The school is raising money for the estimated $10,000 project, which it hopes to have completed for next school year. It also will use grant money to pay for part of the project.

When completed, the library will be renamed the “Launch Lab” to reflect its new design.

Teachers and administrators envision a room with collaborative spaces where students in third through fifth grades can hook their iPads to a television to work together, a creativity wall where students can make designs and an interactive learning board. The space already has a 3-D printer. It will be adorned with bright colors and inspirational quotes on the walls.

“We’re really hoping to adapt to the changing needs of our students,” said Meghan Bright, technology coach for the district.

Special education teacher Jodi VanderSchaaff said having a space like the Launch Lab will be a great way for her students to work together.

“Sometimes ideas feed off of each other,” she said of students collaborating.

VanderSchaaff said the district going one-to-one with its iPads and Chromebooks this year has been a big difference for her students because it is an extra learning tool.

Third-grade math and social studies teacher Sherry Soxman said she is looking forward to having a space where her students can have more tools to create hands-on projects.

“This is just something I’ve been excited about for years,” Soxman said.

Fifth-grade English teacher Angela Kozlowski said she wants her students to be able to read a book in class and then use technology to complete creative assignments. Students are typically tasked with trying to re-create a scene or object described in their books.

Until now, they had what Kozlowski calls “low-tech” items, but she is excited to incorporate more “high-tech” items like virtual reality components into the assignments.

School librarian Richard Gittins said he has been anticipating this project for a number of years.

He plans to sort through old books and materials that are no longer used in the library to make room for more books that spark creativity and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) ideas. He said they will “upcycle” old materials like CDs, film strips and pictures from books to be used on creative projects.

Principal James Schweinberg said the space will be built into the daily schedule so all students can use it, but the library will still be used for traditional quiet time and reading on some days.

“It was just perfect timing to redo this whole area,” Schweinberg said. “We want to bring it up to speed.”

Residents can donate by going to and searching for the school’s name.

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