Marlborough Introduces the SPARC
Opened just two weeks ago, SPARC -- for Special Projects in the ARC and Steam Powered ARC -- now provides an adaptable workspace perfect for collaboration, innovation, and creativity.
When Mr. Wadbrook, Director of Academic and Administrative Technology, first came to Marlborough last year, the school had recently launched its Bring Your Own Laptop program. Since each girl had her own device, Mr. Wadbrook noticed the two computer labs in the Academic Resource Center (ARC) sitting empty for the majority of the year.
At the same time, the computer coding classes were rapidly increasing in enrollment, while also sharing a small room with the robotics team, and Marlborough was planning to add an entrepreneurship class to the schedule as well.
Noticing this shift in dynamics, Mr. Wadbrook thought it an ideal solution to convert the computer labs into Marlborough's version of a "maker space." Opened just two weeks ago, SPARC -- for Special Projects in the ARC and Steam Powered ARC -- now provides an adaptable workspace perfect for collaboration, innovation, and creativity.
"We wanted a versatile space that could be easily adjusted to accommodate a variety of configurations," said Mr. Wadbrook. "The architecture firm, also known as architecture + designs, came to us with a wonderful idea to build a track around the room, which allows us to rotate large shelving units 30-degrees, 90-degrees, and 180-degrees, completely dividing or opening the rooms if need be. One side of the shelving units is a white board surface and the other is shelving, so any combination is possible."
Project storage was also a major element to tackle when designing the SPARC, for which also known as architecture + designs presented another innovative solution. Along one wall of each room is a projector displaying onto a whiteboard surface. Parked next to this whiteboard are the shelving units on casters, which allow them to be positioned sideways and pushed together to create a flush whiteboard writing surface, or separated to allow access to 20 maple storage boxes. Each box can be removed from the inner rack and hung on a workbench or another area of the room, making it convenient for students to store and move their ongoing projects.
Mr. Witman, Science/Coding/Robotics Instructor and Co-Head of STEM at Marlborough, started using the room for classes last week. So far, his favorite part of the space is the new AV system. Four displays sit around the room, and a variety of inputs make it simple to connect laptops, apple tvs, and cameras. "This setup makes it really easy to switch between displays," says Mr. Witman of the iPad used to control where any one output will be projected. Not only is this convenient for teachers to display multiple resources, but it's also effortless for students to quickly connect to a display from their seat and present their work to the class.
The SPARC is just the beginning of a transformation of the ARC space. "There's an energy in there that inspires collaboration -- making something, doing something, being creative," says Ms. Rosi, Dean of Student Life, about SPARC. "We're trying to bring more student life activity not just to that space, but to the ARC as a whole."
Mr. Wadbrook echoes this desire to reconceptualize the ARC. "This year we will be looking more closely at what the Academic Resource Center means for Marlborough. We have a library with a wonderful collection, and lots of potential in other areas, so where we want to go is something we'll figure out, but it's exciting."