Active Learning Spaces

SciBox 1.0 – Harvard

SciBox 1.0 is an innovative “black-box” style classroom and lab space designed by physics lecturers Dr Logan McCarty and Prof. Melissa Franklin at the Harvard University Department of Physics. It is described as a flexible maker space which encourages students to design experiments in whatever way they want, whether that’s using computers or even drilling into the classroom walls. The designers made a conscious decision to give the room an unfinished feel, with partially painted walls and exposed ceilings. This was to encourage students to adapt the room to their needs.

The room is split into two sections, a lab containing experimental stations and a flexible classroom area which is designed for student collaboration. Having the two spaces side by side facilitates easy movement between both types of learning environments.

In the adjacent room there is a “maker space” for the students with 3D printers, a computer-controlled router, vinyl cutter, circuit board milling machine, and other tools for students to make things.

The room is used for formal lectures, group work, physics labs and even theatrical performances; showing that a room such as this one can be used to really innovate teaching and learning in the sciences. Ceiling projectors are placed in such a way that images can be projected onto any wall (moving or not) in the room. A large flat-screen TV allows for conferencing and video calls.


“The space may not change the way people answer physics questions, but it can change how they think about physics, and how they feel about physics. If we accomplish that, it would be a huge success.” — Logan McCarty


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