Benjamin School building $3.6 million science lab
The school could start construction on the Maglio Family STEM Center (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) by January and finish by the end of 2018, said Chief Development Officer Juan Carlos Fanjul. The two-story building will be on the south side of the campus on U.S. 1.
The center will have lower and middle school science labs, space and equipment for students to work on computing and technology projects and an aquatics room with tanks and a greenhouse.
Head of Lower School Kristen Sheehan said students take turns using a small lab throughout the week. They get an introduction to coding and robotics with each type of science, such as life science or physics. The new space designed like labs in middle and high schools will allow teachers to push students’ thinking even more, Sheehan said.
Head of Middle School Charles Hagy said the school’s curriculum has outgrown its facilities.
“This will accommodate what we’re already doing and allow us to do more,” he said.
They can use the space for a variety of projects. Older and younger elementary students, for instance, pair up to program a robot to walk across a table without toppling over the edge. Eighth grader Matthew Roundtree’s science class built remote-operated underwater vehicles and took a field trip to the Keys to test them last year.
Fifth grader Parker Cohen is excited about the STEM center.
Every student gets practice coding and engineering, Hagy said. His seventh grade history students engineer a model of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., where state troopers sprayed tear gas and beat nonviolent protesters marching for voting rights in 1965. Martin Luther King Jr. led 2,000 activists in a peaceful march to the bridge two days later.
The STEM center is named after Bill and Madeline Maglio, whose five grandchildren attend The Benjamin School. The Jupiter couple’s $2.5 million for the science lab came from the Maglio family and the Berlin Family Foundation, Fanjul said. Berlin is Madeline Maglio’s maiden name.
For a $250,000 donation, other families or companies can have a room with their name on it.
The Lower and Middle School campus in North Palm Beach has 665 students enrolled, with another 425 or so students at the Upper School in Palm Beach Gardens, Head of School Robert Goldberg said. Nancy and Marshall Benjamin opened the North Palm Beach Private School on U.S. 1 in 1960. About 3,000 alumni have been added to the ranks since the first senior class graduated in 1979.
Goldberg called the STEM center a “dream come true” that provides a space for the theoretical and hands-on learning the school offers. At the Upper School, he would like to convert unused library space into a “learning commons” where students can market projects created in the science labs and maker spaces.