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TULSA – When Major Carlyle Gargis first walked through the new Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics, and Ministry (STEAMM) Lab at The Salvation Army North Mabee Boys and Girls Club, he found a group of kids already at work with its high-tech tools.
“We had to pry them away from what they were doing because they were so into it,” said Gargis, pastor/area commander of The Salvation Army Tulsa Area Command. “But it was in those moments that I saw the hope, and I saw the excitement, and I saw that one thing I hope we never miss out on, wonder. I saw wonder in their eyes. And it was so palpable! I mean, my heart was moved. My eyes filled up with water because it mattered to those children.”
With those words and a prayer, Gargis led Thursday’s grand opening of that new STEAMM Lab. The 4,500-square-foot renovation, designed by Reed Architecture and Interiors, features a high-tech STEAMM laboratory, a multipurpose classroom, an audio/visual room, and a photography dark room.
“The Reed team helped us reconfigure the existing space to make it work more for the curriculum and to make it easier for the kids to flow from activity to activity,” said Deanna Schaefer, director of facilities for the Tulsa Area Command.
This marks the first STEAMM Lab in either a Salvation Army or a Boys and Girls Clubs of America facility, said Latrice Fowlkes, unit director at the North Mabee location, 3001 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
“I like to say that we’re a mini-Tulsa Technology Center because we have all of the programs that Tulsa Tech would offer for the older students, high school and adults, whereas the youth can get those programs here in our center and then grow into it as they go to high school,” she said.
Fowlkes said the STEAMM Lab will educate students from third to 12th grade. Forty students enrolled for the fall semester. Fowlkes said the North Mabee facility also will serve students from Tulsa’s four other Boys and Girls Clubs.
“The hopes and dreams are to build one of these in all five of our Boys and Girls Clubs,” said Schaefer. “I think all children deserve the best, and I feel like this is the best program available to the youth and our budding future generations.”
STEAMM labs incorporate the scientific, technological, engineering, and mathematical possibilities of STEM programs while adding creative opportunities in the arts and ministries.
“Bottom line, this is a really big deal. A very big deal,” said Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell.
“The goal of STEAMM is to foster the true innovation that comes from combining the mind of a scientist or technologist with that of an artist or a designer,” said Pinnell. “This partnership between STEAMM and STEM is the future, and as the new secretary of workforce development, it’s one of the many reasons that I am here today.
“STEAMM education is preparing students for an ever-changing workforce,” he said. “As we enter a new industrial revolution, educators must prepare students for many jobs that do not exist today, and many of those kids are going to go through this building.”
Donations from The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation and others contributed to this project, which was completed by general contractor Hoey Construction Co. of Tulsa. The Salvation Army Tulsa Area Command hired Creative Learning Systems of Boulder, CO, to help put the new lab together.
“We design and build specific programs in STEM for students, boys and girls, who don’t really know their talents, and so they get to come and explore,” said Scott Hutton, senior regional STEM director for Creative Learning Systems. “It’s really trying to find their passion. We hope the next Elon Musk or the next Bill Gates comes out of a Boys and Girls Club.”
The Reed design renovated and connected several existing North Mabee educational areas with a central corridor redecorated with a colorful DNA pattern.
“This turned out to be a great space,” said David Reed, founder and principal of Sapulpa-based Reed Architecture. “The main lab was originally two rooms with no good access to the outside, so we opened up that space, added that window entryway to bring natural light in, and we poured that concrete patio. Now they have an outdoor space to put the robots as well as paints or whatever. And we replaced all the old carpets and tile to give this a very modern feel that is easy to maintain and keep clean.”
The redesign also included an adjoining hallway and restrooms.
“I was most excited to make the space pop with color to match the branding of the Boys and Girls Club,” said Nicollette West, a Reed Architecture interior designer. “They wanted this space to be interactive and fun, and I’m thrilled for the students to jump in and create.”
For more information about the Tulsa Area Command, contact Salvation Army Public Relations Manager Jessica Orth at 918-946-7041 or check out southernusa.salvationarmy.org/
Reed Architecture and Interiors is a full-service architecture and interior design firm with extensive experience in athletic, educational, civic, commercial, and religious projects. To learn more about this Historic Downtown Sapulpa company, check out reed-architects.com or call David Reed at (918) 884-6007.