In 2009, Dr Simon Crook was seconded by the Catholic Education Office Sydney to help prepare bids for 21st Century Science Centres as part of the Building the Education Revolution (BER) federal funding. Within the process he helped prepare the bids for 8 low-socioeconomic schools. All 8 bids were successful and the schools were awarded a total of $15 million out of a maximum $16 million.
Prior to completing the bids Simon was asked to research the traditional designs of science laboratories, more modern designs and to dream the dream of what a 21st Century Science Centre could look like. This culminated in the report below. His main findings were that 21st Century Science Laboratories should:
- remove the monolithic (oftentimes raised) teacher demonstration bench from the front of the room, thereby removing the traditional barrier between the teacher and students
- provide mobile yet sturdy work benches for students that can be reorientated and fixed rigidly in place to electricity/water supplies, thereby providing flexibility to the learning space for group practicals, practical exams and opportunities for differentiation
- where possible replace brick walls with windows that look through glass cabinets filled will all of the interesting equipment. This creates lines of sight in and out of the laboratory, provides interest and stimulation for younger students and visitors seeing experiments taking place and the cool equipment involved, and creates a lot of light rather than traditional, dark, dank laboratories
- be brought about through consultation with all stakeholders (teachers, students, school leadership, parents, lab technicians).
In recent years, Simon has been asked to assist several other schools in their design of new science laboratories. If you are interested in receiving advice on the creation and/or refurbishment of your science laboratories; would benefit from someone liaising, planning and feeding back with architects; require someone to facilitate consultation with all stakeholders; or need someone to assist with submissions for external funding, please visit the contact page.