2023 Grants Challenge

STEAM SPACE: Outdoor Learning Lab

The Outdoor Learning Lab project will expand our current Innovation Lab classroom to include a flexible, engaging and useful outdoor extension. The new outdoor space will take advantage of our ideal southern California weather and campus to engage our students from K-8 and allow for greater creativity, collaboration, experimentation, and discovery.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

K-12 STEAM Education

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

West LA

Other:: Ventura County

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) subjects are important elements of a well-rounded elementary and middle school experience. They teach students the skills they need to be successful in today's world. STEAM skills are essential for many careers, and they are also important for everyday life. Many schools lack in this area, leaving students to fend for themselves if they are interested in these subjects. Some students don't know they are interested because they have never been exposed or given the opportunity to try it. Children need to be able to use their imagination, use their hands to make and build things, and problem-solve with their peers. Kids need to be kids. This is a vulnerable age to learn and grow. In a rapidly changing world, it is difficult to predict what skills children will need to be successful in science, technology, engineering, art and math. We want to provide them with the tools that foster creativity and will open as many doors as possible.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Our Innovation Lab provides the maker space for hands-on projects with wood, metal, cardboard, and plastic, and incorporates robotics, engineering, coding, digital design, and the use of computer software and technology. In classes tailored specifically to Kindergarten through 8th grade, students practice patience and persistence while developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students are encouraged to be creative and innovative, and classes in this learning lab help them develop an interest in and prepare for STEAM careers. With the new outdoor learning lab expansion, the current innovation lab extends its boundaries to a useful and inspiring space, complete with a shade structure, glass retractable walls, additional storage, more equipment, software, rolling tables, and chairs. This expansion would also include a power ceiling grid, and movable workstations. The project increases creativity, improves test scores and encourages problem-solving skills. Increasing instructional time outdoors helps improve behavioral challenges, problem-solving skills, and focus, which will increase children's overall health and well-being. Most of all, this space will encourage the growth mindset that makes a Berkeley Hall education special, and we want to give this opportunity to as many students as we can.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Berkeley Hall proudly supports students of all socio-economic backgrounds. We work closely with the Independent School Alliance which serves as a resource for underserved Los Angeles youth and helps racially underrepresented students matriculate into independent schools. Access to this amazing innovation learning lab means that Berkeley Hall students from diverse backgrounds will experience a hands-on approach to learning that they may not otherwise have. This will spark their interest in various fields of STEAM, opening doors for them in the future. 200+ students per year will be preparing for high school, the current job market, and jobs that we cannot predict yet. With exposure to this technology and programming, there are no limits to what these children can do. For LA County, this leads to a more stable workforce, economic viability, and leadership in the technology fields. This project impacts the student, their families, future places of employment, and maybe even the world.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Success for a program like this is measured by student involvement and engagement. As educators, we must find ways to engage our students creatively and tap into the many teachable moments we have every day. The number of Innovation Lab projects that are imagined, created, and finished as well as the number of students who engage in this program are our measurements of success. This lab will help our 200+ students develop skills and ideas like goal-setting, hand-eye coordination, design-thinking, collaboration, patience, delayed gratification, and accountability. Over time, we will be able to measure success based on the number of students who leave Berkeley Hall as fearless scholars in the STEAM subjects and pursue those careers.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 200

Indirect Impact: 5,000