by Rebecca Horniman, Marketing Director, Prescott Unified School District and Christine Resnick, Executive Director, Jewish Community Foundation
Prescott High School launched its state-of-the-art creative media lab with a grand opening celebration on Nov. 13.
Principal Mark Goligoski, in his introductory comments to the crowd, said, “Our media lab is unique. There is nothing like it in Arizona.”
Born from the innovative thinking of Robyn Bryce, media productions teacher and technology integration specialist, and made possible by $47,000 in initial funding from the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Prescott, “The Lab” will provide skills to at least 400 students pursuing degrees and careers in media, engineering, business and entrepreneurship, to name a few.
It currently boasts a green screen, sound booth, virtual reality capability, a drone, robotic arm, 3D printers, vinyl printer and cutter, heat press and computer design center. Students will learn the skills to not only operate these machines, but collaboratively create tangible goods.
These “goods” will come from students’ ideas, and will move to prototype and eventually to market. Students will learn business concepts of marketing, economics and costing through hands-on experience and gain skills in film, sound and digital enhancement, along with engineering skills such as design and prototyping.
“I thought of the coolest gear that I could put in there to provide an experience for students and teachers, and to build a production studio for the district to make the merchandise that (Prescott Unified School District) teams and organizations wear and sell,” Bryce said.
“Now having built it, I see what more I still want in that creative media and modern manufacturing space. I am excited for the potential of growth for this space and what it offers, and am looking forward to this lab sparking the spread of more of a STEM philosophy throughout PHS classrooms and in our community.”
She said, “Through partnerships with community businesses and organizations, it is my hope that students will obtain internships and even paid jobs where they can continue to build skills and relationships and offer them roots in Prescott, retaining an educated and motivated workforce to strengthen our community.”
As technology begins to take over through automated processes, the market will still be in need of workers with critical thinking and strong communication skills, in addition to having strong experiences to work collaboratively, solve problems and think creatively to enhance and evolve products and systems. The Lab will provide the environment to gain these skills and experiences.
Bryce said, “I see the value in trying and experimenting. I have become more comfortable with a student-led classroom setting.”
Teachers will also use The Lab to help enhance their lesson plans. For instance, a class could come to experience walking on the moon using virtual reality or visiting a different time and place like the Great Wall of China. Through these sensory experiences students can gain a greater comprehension of curriculum, and instructors will gain a new “teaching tool.”
After considering numerous applications, JCF provided the funding for The Lab through its 2019 grant cycle. “Education has always been of great importance to the Jewish culture as in many others. The JCF loved the concept and was inspired by Robyn Bryce’s enthusiasm and vision,” said Christine Resnick, executive director.
“This will not only provide students with a leg up to compete and continue into a two- or four-year degree beyond PHS, but will provide those not pursuing additional education the current skills needed to gain viable, current jobs where they can support themselves and a family. The impact that this will make on our community in education will be significant,” Resnick added.