Learning Made Fun
The new 9,200-square-foot Kemper Science and Engineering Building at Lake Ridge Academy opened its doors at the beginning of the school year, thanks to the generosity of John and Betty Kemper and 90 other families who contributed a total of just under $3.5 million.
The building is bright and cheerful, with large windows offering views of the woods where younger students tap maple trees in the spring. Inside, you’ll find everything from a cardboard replica of the Eiffel Tower to a mouse running on a treadmill designed by an upper-class student for an experiment on how exercise affects memory.
The space is divided into five main areas. The multipurpose room, dubbed the “Exploratorium,” is where students can listen to a lecture before moving into a lab to launch an experiment. All of the tables and chairs are on wheels, so the furniture can be easily pushed to the side to make room for younger students to race their Lego robotics.
The Kaatz Chemistry Laboratory is more than twice as big as the old lab and features three fume hoods, one of which is dual-sided to allow more viewing space. The adjoining Yoo Research Lab is dedicated to older students who use the space to work on and store independent long-term research projects.
The greenhouse allows students to grow plants year-round and is a favorite of the little kids. “They’re always doing projects,” says Susan Haas, the school’s director of marketing and communications.
Lastly, there is what Haas calls “your typical wood shop on steroids.” Indeed, the Navratil Engineering Fab Lab and shop features state-of-the-art equipment, including a vinyl cutter, laser cutter, two 3-D printers and a computer numerical control router.
“This is all about innovation and creativity,” says Haas. “The students love it.”