Innovation at Bagnall



When the Elmer S. Bagnall school was founded in 1964, only great possibilities and limitless dreams were hoped to be reached. One big change in the Bagnall school over the last two years is the innovation studios: maker-space, STEAM lab, and passion projects. Thanks to Brooke Welch, the STEAM coordinator at Bagnall, students now have the time and resources to express themselves in a way that they never could before.

Welch was a middle school art teacher for six years, implementing the ‘voice in choice’ method, where she allowed students to choose their own art schedule from a variety of different art topics. After this she went for her master’s degree in STEAM education, specializing in kindergarten through grade 6, later becoming a second grade teacher for two years before accepting a job at Pentucket. What drew her to Pentucket was the foundation of the innovation academies already in place and the opportunity to make a difference through the ‘voice in choice’ method which is something Welch truly values.

Welch has already made drastic improvements on not only the education, but the environment at Bagnall. Now the students have a safe space, where they can be an expert on something as Welch mentioned in the interview. She also went on to say how the innovation studios or passion projects give the students a place where they do not have to focus on their struggles that are happening in the classroom, but instead, they can excel out of the classroom, where other peers look to them.

The innovation studios contain the maker space and STEAM lab. The STEAM lab has a variety of tools for students to explore such as the Mac lab, a green screen, 3D printers, iPad, Bee Bots, Vex Bots, and Logo Robots all for the students to use. While the maker space contains a desktop computer, 9 Samsung Galaxy tablets, sewing machines, jigsaws, drills, and many hand tools. With all of these tools, the projects and creations are endless.

The maker-space is an area for students to build, explore, and create. In the morning, Tinker Time is an option for kindergarten through second grade students. This allows the students with their parents to create in the maker-space. While the third through sixth graders have a block of time in their day to use the maker-space area. This area contains recyclable materials, hard materials, soft material, scroll saws, hammers, and nails as well. In other words, “a place for inspiration,” as Welch puts it.

Passion projects are another opportunity for students at Bagnall. This is the second year the Passion projects were implemented, as last year was their pilot year. They opened up starting up on Oct. 1, 2018, where students can submit a proposal to the teacher. After this, they receive a booklet on how to create their passion project. Welch mentions, they receive a pass for them to be able to leave class as well as the requirements, including a presentation at the end of the project. The time allowed for passion projects is used during the student’s lunch and recess which allows full core educational learning time to be reached in the classroom.

Welch talks about how, observed last year, that students were not interested in recess, as well as the consistency of there being social outcasts on the playground. Now, these students have a block of time to create and explore. With the high stakes in the classroom Welch believes, “students who struggle to be successful, that when your not successful, that self esteem goes down,” and when they come to the innovation studios, and become an expert on something peers look to them for help. Now, these kids can succeed in a way they can learn. This is what Welch believes every student needs to have in and out of school.

Overall, Welch, along with the rest of the Bagnall community, has made a lasting impact on the students of Bagnall that will stay with them for a long time. Allowing kids to escape their stress and their day to day struggles in the classroom, is exactly what happens at the Elmer S. Bagnall school.