Two hands-on learning labs, an amphitheater, a fossil wall, and more than 25 acres of outdoor learning space and trails will soon become the newest classroom space in EMS ISD.
This is part of the new Discovery Lab Learning Center that is set to open in the spring for all EMS ISD teachers and students to enjoy. The Center is a feature element in the design of the new District Administration Building, which officially opened on October 13, 2022, with the raising of the flags on the new site. The project was approved by voters as part of the 2017 bond.
The Discovery Lab and Administration Facility is located at 1600 Mustang Rock Road in Fort Worth, behind Marine Creek Middle School. The building brings together under one roof 17 district departments, the EMS Education Foundation and approximately 150 employees who previously were scattered among eight different facilities across the district. In addition to the Discovery Labs and office spaces, the facility provides flexible spaces for trainings, meetings, special events and programs of various sizes and needs.
Visual art students from Chisholm Trail HS were the first to experience the new Discovery Labs with a “sneak peek” in October. “I think it’s cool that anyone can access this,” said Andrew Quinones, a CTHS junior who visited the Discovery Lab for a photography lesson. “It seems great for photography and science and nature, and that anyone can walk the trail.” Dr. Dana Barnes, Chief Academic Officer, said the Discovery Lab is designed to provide students with an enrichment experience to expand their knowledge of environmental interactions and natural sustainability.
The Center is being equipped with proper supplies for field studies to support scientific inquiry, outdoor exploration, and place-based learning. It even has “mud rooms” with waterproof boots and gloves so students can learn without limits.
With the proximity of Marine Creek Lake and its tributaries, students will be able to test water quality and study aquatic organisms. They will participate in learning walks on a variety of trails. Using the local ecosystem, students can connect with nature while participating in activities such as identifying animal tracks and native species, predicting food chains and food webs and observing conservation efforts including watershed design.
The Discovery Lab Learning Center also offers the commons area and amphitheater for programs such as bands, choirs, theatre, and visual arts to showcase performances and art exhibitions. English and creative writing classes can visit for writing inspiration, and the area provides a natural location for environmental studies and clubs.
EMS ISD staff also will benefit from the Center as part of their ongoing professional learning. Teachers can access the labs and amphitheater to experience the equipment, lessons, and outdoor areas for their own leaning. The labs also will provide space to host events for the district and community that share the learning experience for all.
“It is critical to our students’ learning that we provide different environments where students can touch, smell, critically think, and physically experience the actual learning,” Barnes said. “The possibilities are almost endless at the EMS ISD Discovery Lab Learning Center. We are extremely excited to offer this unique and amazing space for the EMS ISD community of learners of all ages.”