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New CIRC areas open in Seneca Valley schools

Curious and wide-eyed elementary students in the Seneca Valley School District will now be greeted by a massive pirate ship, complete with sails, palm trees and even a plank or a draw bridge that leads into their stately white castle with its towers and turrets.

Two new Creativity, Innovation and Research Centers (CIRCs) recently opened at Rowan Elementary and Connoquenessing Valley Elementary schools.

A pirate ship theme now decorates Rowan's CIRC space while a castle has been built at Connoquenessing Valley. The CIRC rooms were unveiled when students came back from their holiday break on Jan. 2.

“It's an absolutely inspiring space for students and adults alike,” said Rowan Elementary Principal Nan Farmar. “It's been a pure joy to see the kids come in and see their expressions and see the type of learning they're going to be able to do in the space.”

In these newly designed spaces, students can access maker spaces, including a green screen and, through a donation from the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, various interactive kits and equipment.

Some of the products include robotic, engineering, invention and construction activity sets, Kindles, microphones, extensive video equipment, Snap circuits and Arduino boards.

In this immersive space, young inventors can use these materials to collaborate with their peers on subjects such as coding, robotics, engineering, communications and graphics design.

Nearly two years ago, Seneca Valley collaborated with Pittsburgh-based Inventionland Institute to design innovative spaces and introduce creative resources at all Seneca Valley elementary schools as a way to help students find inspiration in their academics.

Farmar said the students were very enthusiastic about the theme and design.

“They have been just in awe of what it looks, especially the older kids who knew what it looked like previously,” she said.

Farmar also said the school will host an author in the spring, as it usually does, but they have selected one who has written about pirates specifically to fit with the new CIRC theme.

The first CIRC space was installed at Haine Elementary School in summer 2017.

A Seneca Valley news release said district officials “look forward to incorporating a CIRC space in a future K-6 building that is planned for construction on Ehrman Road.”

In the meantime, equipment and CIRC curriculum is also available to Evans City students, and Evans City students can collaborate with the material and their peers via the school's library.

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