The New York City Lower Laboratory School for Gifted Education, also known as the Lab School and the Lower Lab School, is a public elementary school for kindergarten through fifth grade. The school is an option school, where children apply for admission.
The school was founded in 1988 with the support of former District 2 Superintendent Anthony Alvarado and then Department of Education Chancellor Joseph Fernandez. The school began with kindergarten classes and grew by adding a grade each year.
Located at 1700 Third Avenue between 95th and 96th Streets, the Lab School shares the Isador and Ida Straus school building with PS 198. The building honors the prominent New Yorkers who owned Macy’s and the Abraham and Straus department stores. The couple is also notable because of their death on the Titanic in 1912.
Asking intelligent and provocative questions and teaching students to make knowledge their own are the essence of the Lab School’s philosophy and the key element to our school’s approach. Accessing information is the first step in constructing knowledge. Students are encouraged to listen carefully to differing perspectives and to reflect on what they’ve learned and how they’ve learned it. Students learn to incorporate a variety of approaches to build a repertoire of strategies for understanding and evaluating information. As a result, they begin to develop an understanding of the learning process itself.
The Lab School operates on the premise that every child can benefit from a research-based curriculum. The students are expected to work both independently and collaboratively to research information and then communicate the results to their peers, parents and teachers.
The core approach is an inquiry-based, interdisciplinary curriculum. In our program, students prepare for the future by raising questions and posing problems. They learn how to access information from a variety of primary and secondary sources, to think critically about that information and to apply their knowledge to the problems they have posed. They also learn to communicate their knowledgeclearly, both orally and in writing.
Teaching is based on literature rather than textbooks. Science and math use a hands-on approach made tangible through “manipulatives.” The students’ work is displayed on the classroom walls. Projects often spill out into the halls, where students can work alone or in groups away from the class as needed. Bulletin boards in the halls reflect the work that is in progress in the classes. Children making knowledge their own and sharing their understanding with each other are the essence of the Lab School.
Our thematic, interdisciplinary curriculum also includes music, art, science and Spanish. It is individualized and project oriented; students have the opportunity to work independently, in collaborative groups and within the whole class setting.