Students Become Archaeologists in Innovation Lab

Students Become Archaeologists in Indy's Innovation Lab
Posted on 10/15/2018
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photos of Indy 4th graders doing fossil labs

Fourth grade archaeologists in Susan Smith’s class took over the new Innovation Lab at Independence Elementary this week. They rotated between four hands-on stations using ingredients like cookie dough, bread and gummy candies to learn about trace fossils, molds and casts, and fossil creation.

“When you can make the learning experience meaningful, memorable -- and interesting, student understanding and learning soars,” said Smith. “The Innovation Lab helps a teacher create those types of learning experiences. This is exactly what happened with the fossil learning stations today.”

At the fossil creation station, students placed gummy candies between layers of bread to simulate organisms in between layers of sedimentary rock. A stack of books was then pressed down on the bread to simulate 10,000 years of time. When the young archaeologists carefully peeled apart the layers of bread, exclamations of “that’s so cool” could be heard as detailed molds of the candies appeared.

“The Innovation Lab is a very exciting and inviting place,” continued Smith. “I think it sparks students’ interest and inspires teachers to look at new possibilities for experiences to enhance learning. We have plans to use it for water table experiments with erosion, weathering and deposition. And I can already imagine engaging stations for our electricity and circuit building unit later in the year.”

That’s exactly what Principal Dr. Greg Finke had in mind when he envisioned the Indy Innovation Lab. He toured schools that had spaces dedicated to studies like cooking or video production. He and a team of teachers took the best elements of all these learning labs and combined it into one versatile learning space. Indy’s Innovation Lab includes a culinary corner, grow tower, video station and green screens, an erosion table, 3D printers and more. The lab is still evolving; in fact, plans are underway to add a greenhouse area later in the school year.

“The Innovation Lab gives teachers the space to experiment and try things – and a place for the students to experiment and try things as well,” said Dr. Finke.