Full STEAM ahead at new Clay County elementary school

Discovery Oaks Elementary ready to create problem solvers, principal says

ORANGE PARK, Fla. – Hundreds of students in Clay County will start a new school year next week in a new elementary school. 

Roughly 800 students are enrolled for the 2018-19 school year at Discovery Oaks Elementary School on Oakleaf Plantation Parkway in Orange Park.  

News4Jax got a sneak peak of the school Wednesday. It will be the first science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics -- or STEAM -- school in Clay County.

“We have to get kids involved into activities and mindsets for positions and careers that don’t even exist right now,” Superintendent Addison Davis said of the new elementary school's focus.

Principal Tracy McLaughlin said the school will integrate the STEAM elements into the students' education through project-based learning. School officials hope that style of learning will lay a solid foundation for lifelong success. 

“For us, STEAM is not just about an acronym. It's actually embedded in everything we do. We’re looking to create real-world problem solvers,” McLaughlin said. “We have a lot of unique technology and science labs which will help at an early age begin to build those critical thinking skills for students.” 

McLaughlin said the best feature of the new school is its technology.

“We are a completely wireless school,” she said. “We have the newest modern technology in the building. We also have two science labs that are dedicated for teachers to go in on a rotating basis with their classrooms to do investigations. We have unique playground equipment that encourages discovery, learning and exploration.”

Workers were putting the final touches on the school Wednesday as faculty members prepared to welcome students on Tuesday. 

The multimillion-dollar facility for students in kindergarten through sixth-grade took 10 months to complete and includes dozens of classrooms, science labs, a cafetorium, a music room and a media center.

Davis said construction on the school finished on time and under budget.

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