By Jill Draper
Thanks to recent gifts and grants, The Barstow School will begin construction in September on a 32,000-square-foot STEAM center open to public, private and homeschool students throughout the metro area. The center will be called IDEA Space KC, and will be a resource for K-12 students to explore science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
Located at the former Hyvee store at 12200 State Line Road in Leawood, the center will include a makerspace, tech lab, fabrication workshop and incubation hub where students can collaborate on problem solving and putting things together, said Jennifer Dreiling, vice president of external development.
“It will be a community resource, not just an extension of Barstow,” she explained, adding that IDEA Space KC plans to partner with Center, Grandview and Hickman Mills school districts as well as home school groups. The goal is to overlay learning opportunities on top of the current curriculum for about 15 hours per year per student.
For example, classes studying westward expansion might visit the center for several hours every week for a month to build a covered wagon or a wagon wheel using state of the art tools as the final segment of that unit.
IDEA Space KC will use only half of the former Hyvee building, and Barstow is taking a wait and see approach on following through with previous plans for an early childhood center, a theater and athletic areas. “In some ways we’ve gifted ourselves the opportunity to learn what space is utilized the most,” Dreiling said, noting that focusing on STEAM activities as a first phase brought down their fundraising goal to $8 million.
The Sunderland Foundation will give $4 million to the project, the largest donation in the school’s history. Combined with grants from the William T. Kemper Foundation, the Ronald D. Deffenbaugh Foundation and other gifts, Barstow now has reached 70% of this $8 million fundraising goal.
Dreiling called the gifts “transformational” and said they will impact not only students, but the entire community. “We’re building Kansas City’s future workforce, in a sense.” IDEA Space KC also is exploring other business and nonprofit partnerships involving financial and material gifts and mentors.
In addition to serving as a field trip for classes, the center will be open for afterschool programs and summer camps.
IDEA Space KC should be ready for students by fall 2022. J.E. Dunn is the contractor and Pluribus is the architect. IDEA stands for innovation, discovery, entrepreneurship and arts.