Inspiration Lab initiative launches at Susquehanna Community

From left: SCDA board member and former school teacher Kathy Mattis; SCDA chairman Darlene Slocum, SCHS Principal Brent Soden; and SCDA vice president Joe White.

Susquehanna Community High School Principal Brent Soden presented the school district’s “planning for the future” initiative that brings STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) into the school system to the Susquehanna Community Development Association (SCDA) on Monday, Aug. 12.

Soden outlined some of the difficulties the school faculty and administrators face as they work to help students achieve to a higher level as the times progress. He said, “The Susquehanna Community School District is part of a community in which a majority of students lack awareness, access, and exposure to cutting edge technology that is necessary for future employment opportunities.”

Acknowledging the detrimental effect this deficit creates both now and into the future, school personnel are focused on finding and implementing strategies for improvement for the students they serve. 

“Imagine a space that’s filled with cutting edge technology. A space that students can access freely. A space where students can interact with technology on their own terms. Enter the Susquehanna Community Inspiration Lab.

“The Inspiration Lab will allow students to get hands-on experience with technology that will be critical to their success in the future. Your typical Susquehanna County student doesn’t get to experience the Seven Wonders of the World or visit Paris. The Inspiration Lab makes this possible.

“Our students don’t typically have the ability to experiment with green screen video editing software. The Inspiration Lab makes this possible.

“Our students typically don’t have the resources available to challenge themselves creatively on their unassigned time. The Inspiration Lab puts computer coding technology and makerspace kits at our students’ fingertips. The inspiration Lab will allow our students to be creative, innovative, and independent.”

 Many schools across the nation are working to implement STEAM principles into their curriculum.  However, a key component, art, is often left out.  These principles do not typically engage the students in the form of a dedicated space.

Some universities, such as R.I.T. (Rochester Institute of Technology), are catching the fire and bringing these spaces to their campuses. However, many times, these “makerspaces” are often left to be privatized and utilized for profit.  The Susquehanna Community School wants to change that. They envision this STEAM initiative as a way to combat the difficulties they perceive. 

Four major goals have been identified:  Expand student exposure;  Increase student creativity; Expand computer coding skills; and increase innovation. 

To work toward achieving these goals, a campaign has been initiated to raise funds to equip a room in the school to have virtual reality headsets, a video editing studio, coDrones, lab setup, makerspace, videography, and more. 

Following the detailed presentation, the attentive crowd at the SCDA board meeting motioned to be the very first kick-off contributor by presenting a sizable check to the cause. 

Members reiterated their appreciation and gratitude to those who are working to make this a reality and expressed how they believe it is a powerful pivot point for the community.

By investing in the community in this way, the SCDA felt it was in direct line with their mission to develop the community in such an engaging and cutting edge way. By being the first donor, they hope that others will also recognize this great cause and support it as well.

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