Deep Learning is The Focus at Antwerp Innovation and Aquaponics Center

The Broadcasting Green Room in the Multimedia Lab at The Antwerp Innovation and Aquaponics Center (Image credit: Antwerp Local Schools)

As you might guess from its name, the Antwerp Innovation and Aquaponics Center in Antwerp, Ohio, is not your standard school. 

When the state-of-the-art learning center fully opens later this year, STEM and STEAM learning will be emphasized, as well as hands-on, real-world applicable skills for students. Students will have the opportunity to study science while raising fish and growing vegetables in a controlled indoor environment. They will also engage in makerspace activities and film news segments as they study media and journalism in a production lab. 

“The IAC will also offer the space and environment for deeper understanding, the connection of ideas, problem-solving, and the ability to apply and transfer ideas to other areas,” says Dr. Martin Miller, Superintendent of Antwerp Local Schools. “It is our hope that the instruction and training students will receive in the IAC will engage them in all facets of learning and provide them with experiences that will excel their transition when they graduate and move toward future endeavors.” 

The Antwerp Innovation and Aquaponics Center received a Finalist Award for “Most Innovative Learning Spaces” for Tech & Learning’s Innovative Leader Awards at the recent Regional Leadership Summit in Orlando. 

 A High-Tech Facility  

The facility has five main components:  

  • Discovery Lab - A learning space designed for elementary students that features makerspace tools, supplies, and materials as well as VR and AI technology that will help students engage in group projects and learn problem-solving skills. 
  • FAB Lab - A learning space designed for middle and high school students that will feature a makerspace, robotics, printers, VR and AI technology, and will teach students how to collaborate on projects in computer art design, logo printing, and advertising. 
  • Multimedia Lab - Designed for K-12 students, this space is a full video, sound, and photography production facility that will teach students about broadcasting and journalism. 
  • Aquaponics Lab - K-12 students will learn about food production in a controlled environment and living ecosystems. Topics covered will include biology, chemistry, agriculture, economics, marketing, and nutrition as students raise fish and plants for the school cafeteria as well as the community, when supply permits. 
  • Outdoor Classroom Space - This will be used to enhance student cognitive, social, and emotional well-being.

Tech & Teaching  


The Aquaponics Greenhouse under construction  at The Antwerp Innovation and Aquaponics Center. (Image credit: Antwerp Innovation and Aquaponics Center)

Educators and education leaders in the district are intrigued by the potential for the new high-tech center, which will have its grand opening this spring. 

“We are very excited for our teachers to bring new life to their curriculum through the Innovation Center,” says Elyse Boyer, Director of Curriculum and Technology Integration & Innovation for the district. “Teachers will be able to create hands-on learning experiences for students that could not be possible without the resources offered in the center. For example, our students will be able to travel to the Colonial time period through the use of ClassVR Headsets or even create 3-D models for their animal reports.”

The Center can be utilized for many different topics. For instance, a history lesson about Mayan civilization might include a project in which students design and print a 3D version of a Mayan temple, getting a deeper understanding of the subject matter in the process. 

“The technology in the center will enhance the learning experience as well as nurture an individual’s ability to solve everyday problems,” says Harold Gottke, the district’s technology director. “In some cases, the equipment can be used to produce a visual representation of a project to validate the finding from the learning experience.” 

He adds, “The center is designed to house new technologies to assist our students in future endeavors, including college and trade school preparation. We are also working with local businesses to ensure that our students successfully enter the local workforce with skills that will benefit their operations.” 

Erik Ofgang

Erik Ofgang is a Tech & Learning contributor. A journalist, author and educator, his work has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Smithsonian, The Atlantic, and Associated Press. He currently teaches at Western Connecticut State University’s MFA program. While a staff writer at Connecticut Magazine he won a Society of Professional Journalism Award for his education reporting. He is interested in how humans learn and how technology can make that more effective.