Students with masks

The new safe room at Salem Middle School is getting a lot of use in these first few weeks of school. STEAM Lab Director Jessica Morgan has been busy hosting classes and is getting ready for the first Robotics Club meeting, which will include both middle school and high school students. 

Eighth-grade science teacher Angela Snelling has already utilized the space and has plans to do more activities with Morgan. “In science we will use the STEAM lab for our units to do an activity that goes along with what we are learning and help us understand the concept better,” she said. “We just did a chemistry activity there and it is leading us into our first chemistry chapter. It is also nice as a teacher to have a co-teacher to help reinforce what I have been doing and teaching all along. The students enjoy a different point of view on what they are learning as well. My first experience there was very nice and we had a wonderful day.”

Student with mask

Kristen Bailey, who teaches Preparing for College and Careers, said she has enjoyed the hands-on activities the lab provides for her students. She said having an opportunity for them to learn in a way that is not just sitting in a classroom and listening to lectures is a great alternative.

"I love that the STEAM Lab offers my students new learning opportunities," said Bailey. "The students are meeting academic standards while engaged in critical thinking, inquiry, and innovation. Plus they are collaborating and having fun all at the same time!"

Morgan said in the Project Based Learning class, students designed masks using the 3D Doodle Pens.

“It has been a lot of fun collaborating with other teachers and getting the students into the lab!” she said. “Seeing our vision over the last two years come to life has been very rewarding.”

She added that as far as equipment and furniture goes, the last shipment should arrive at the end of the month. This will include additional 3D printers and a laser cutter, which are being provided by the STEM Integration Grant.  

Student with a mask

“It has taken me several months but most items are organized and put away in areas that will be the most efficient,” she said.

In addition to classroom use, the STEAM lab is also the safe room, which will provide shelter during inclement weather. The school practices drills for tornadoes and fires monthly. 

Morgan said the school already held its first tornado drill and everything went smoothly.

“We were able to get all the students and staff into the safe room in about two minutes,” she said. 

When school is not in session, the safe room will be open to the public to take shelter during storms if needed.