The Exploratory, Strathcona Baptist Girls Grammar School
The Exploratory is a science facility that reinforces the principles of inquiry based learning. The Strathcona Exploratory provides; borderless experimentation, tool rich and flexible group learning spaces, outside discovery, and an agora where students publish inquiries, building systems come to life, and real world scenarios are presented to year groups.
pmdl architecture & Design Pty Ltd
34 Scott Street, Canterbury, NSW 3126
Christian Nicholls , pmdl architecture & Design Pty Ltd
$12 million, overall project budget
Christian Nicholls & Ton Vu
The strategic briefing for the Innovative Learning Centre, of which the Exploratory is a component, was a collaborative process in which pmdl became immersed in the school’s spirit and operation. The goal of the briefing process was to produce a facility which is meshed with the evolution of the school’s pedagogy and teaching practices. Strathcona promotes a hands-on discovery of science, placing a high value on demonstration and kinaesthetic reinforcement of theory in it’s teaching practices.
This practice led to a ‘learning community’ scale Experimentation Space to be placed at the centre of The Exploratory; an open field for scientific discovery, with the preparatory lab and equipment at it’s core.
The Exploratory Model presents three types of learning environments:
Group Learning Spaces
A formal setting, primarily for class scale and small group knowledge sharing, collaboration and interpretation activities. The space is technology and tool rich and is discrete from other group learning spaces but has minimal physical separation with the experimentation space.
Experimentation and Agora Space
The experimentation space is ‘learning community’ setting for roaming and formal experiments, having subtle subdivisions of space to accommodate multiple class-scale groups. The space has unobstructed access to specialist resources and equipment.The Agora is primarily a forum for the celebration and publishing of inquiries, to introduce real world scenarios, and to support class and small group activities. The Agora is rich in technology and has good visual connection to the outside world.
Outdoor Discovery Spaces
The real world is just outside and many experiments can be found in informal outdoor settings with natural stimulus. The space will support individual reflection, small group, and class scales. External and internal environments have minimal physical separation.
Strathcona is not a unique school in terms of the structure of it’s teaching practice, which is evolving to respond to changing demands placed upon alumni by 21st Century Societies. The Exploratory is a model which is repeatable in many school contexts and offers significant potential to increase the quality of learning outcomes from Science Curricula.