FULL STEAM AHEAD: Activating Minds through Student Led Discovery

Classroom E217: FULL STEAM AHEAD: Activating Minds through Student Led Discovery by DLR Group

DLR Group’s classroom design creates a framework for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) learning activities in a flexible environment that adapts with students as they engage in an iterative, problem-solving learning process inspired by an inquiry-based learning model. The reimagined classroom demonstrates how a space intended to cultivate interest in STEAM also fosters Sensory, Transformation, Energy, Agency, and Movement. The careful curation of diverse furnishings provides flexibility and a variety of choice-in-learning spots demonstrating that more than just tables and stools belong in a STEAM room.

The space visually illustrates the activation of different areas of the brain through the bold use of color, a shift in flooring, and furniture options to delineate different activities and stages we experience as we think. Color ranges from cool to warm shades based on the level of stimulation associated with each given activity. Mirroring the neuron firings of brain activity seen in a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan, each color zone seamlessly blends with another to reinforce the natural flow of the learning process our brains experience as we actively engage in problem solving. Blue indicates a focus zone for concentrated work and problem introduction; Green represents the technology zone for idea launching; Yellow denotes a brainstorm zone for collaboration; and Red signifies a build zone for creation and presentation of solutions. As the learning process ramps up and the mind is activated, we see that the colors in the different learning zones support this progressive ignition.

 A variety of seating options and heights ensure the space is appropriate for all ages. Interactive elements and instructional manipulatives allow students to fidget, move, and communicate their ideas in a multitude of ways. Students will intuitively flow between each zone to utilize the varied resources throughout as they continue problem-solving. Mobile screens, writable surfaces, moveable furniture, varied postured seating, interactive displays, a central trellis, and a brain break zone are all elements that contribute to the inclusive and flexible nature of the classroom, allowing all learners to find an individualized path best suited to their unique learning modality and processes.


An adaptable and inclusive learning environment is necessary to engage every student throughout their educational journey, from early learner to graduate and every year in between. This classroom provides the space for students to meaningfully collaborate, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate any given problem. An exciting and inviting design creates the foundational framework that empowers learners to discover and embrace their unique strengths and joy for learning while developing critical skills needed for life-long success outside the classroom!

Agati, Allsteel, Bonitz, CEF, Clarus, i3 Technologies, Gratnells, KI, Lakeshore Learning, LiteZilla, Patcraft, Smith Systems, Surface Works  

Sponsored by:

DLR Group