According to Bretford, school seats can power the day. The company’s Motiv Soft Seating line features comfortable chairs and modular couches in a variety of formats that have electrical outlets to power a group’s notebooks and tablets. The furniture’s Fluid power center can supply both 110-volt alternating current as well as 5-volt USB direct current with a UL-approved power supply. If you plug too many devices into it, the system, shuts down and automatically turns back on when the overload is eliminated.
No desk is comfortable for every teacher and student to use, except, maybe the Stir Kinetic Desk. That’s because the 58.5- by 29.5-inch tablet has motors to raise the tabletop from 25- to 51-inches off the ground. That’s just about perfect for the range between the smallest first-grader and the biggest high-school senior. The desk has lots of places for cables, its own processor and a touch screen to control its movement. It should be on sale early next year, but there is no word on pricing.
Who says that teachers need to stay in their seats at school? Steelcase’s Nurture Pocket cart is a standing desk on wheels that can not only go just about anywhere in a school but allow kids and adults to be more attentive and focused on their school work. Originally designed for use in healthcare as a nurse’s cart, the Pocket can let an instructor roam around a classroom or school without leaving the desk behind.
Made of pressed steel, Pocket is on the heavy side, but the cart’s four lockable casters roll quietly, smoothly and without much effort. The placement of its wheels mirrors the dimensions of the desk, which makes it hard to trip over them. Painted in neutral tones, the tabletop is available in two sizes: 22- by 22.5- and 24- by 25-inches of desktop space. The work surface is textured, has a rounded lip that serves as a wrist rest for a keyboard or a notebook and magnetic items stick to it.
Either size desk provides more than enough room for a notebook or tablet, but the bigger one can also hold a small projector or a file filled with papers. While the basic model’s work surface is set at a height of 36-inches, there’s also a height-adjustable model with a work surface that can be set from 31.4- to 41-inches.
I particularly like the inclusion of the Pocket’s integrated handle that allows it be pulled just about anywhere short of a staircase. There are several Pocket options, including a monitor arm that allows it to be used with a small desktop PC, integrated drawers and even magnetic cup holders that work perfectly for pens and pencils.
While the Pocket cart has gained some traction as a teacher’s mobile desk, it could work just as well for students. With the tabletop surface at its lowest setting, it makes for a good seated desk, but can be wheeled out of the way or into groups for collaboration. While casters and height adjustment mechanism are covered for 12- and 5- years, the rest of the Pocket cart is guaranteed for life.
Expect to pay between $600 and $1,450 for the cart, making it a flexible teaching tool that most schools can afford. But, most of all, it lets teachers stand up for education.
The latest in making school computers more mobile is Dell’s Mobile Computing Cart, which can hold up to 30 14-inch systems. It’s only slightly larger than a classroom desk and despite weighing nearly 200-pounds, has a handle that makes it easy to roll from room to room. It has power built-in so that when they’re not being used, the systems can be charging as well as remain connected with optional wired networking. And, when the last bell rings, the cart can be locked up. The cart sells for between $1,900 and $2,800.
While a standing desk can be a better way to learn, just about every piece of school furniture requires kids (and teachers) to sit in the classroom. Not Safco’s AlphaBetter Desk, which can be set for between 26- and 42-inches above the floor. It has two shelves as well as a footrest and can be ordered with a matching stool. The desk is durable and available in a variety of colors.
No kid can be expected to sit still all day and Smith’s Flavors Noodle chair means they don’t have it. That’s because the plastic chair flexes and moves as the sitter squirms and shifts, yet provides the support needed to promote back health. The frame is made of 18-gauge chrome-plated steel and the seating material can be ordered in any of 18 colors, from chocolate to cerulean. The chair costs $155.
Think all school furniture is hard, stiff and uncomfortable? Bretford’s Motiv Sofas are not only soft and comfy, but have optional power outlets and a small table that flips up to hold a notebook, tablet or keyboard. They are available in 58- and 78-inch lengths and in a variety of finishes and fabrics.
Demco’s Jonti Craft Thrifty Rainbow Accents workstation not only comes in 8 colors and has a 22.5-inch keyboard tray, but it costs less than $300. Made of 5/8-inch thick particleboard with a colorful laminate surface the workstation has locking casters and an optional place to stash a full tower PC.
Look around a district’s classrooms and there’s a good chance you’ll see a wide variety of chairs and desks that come from different eras of schooling. The problem is that few are particularly well suited to the efficient use of computers and none can easily be adjusted to accommodate different size kids. How times have changed. Over the past several weeks, I’ve seen four cool and innovative pieces of school furniture that can not only make learning easier and more natural but can be adjusted so that the smallest first grader and the largest high-schools senior can comfortably learn.
Don’t let its beautiful natural bamboo surface fool you, NextDesk’s Terra table is serious about learning. Its sturdy aluminum frame has a chain-driven motor drive inside the legs that move the desktop up and down from 24- to 50.5-inches high. There’re microprocessor-controlled up and down switches with three memory presets for different size students. The 63- by 31.5-inch desk costs $1,500 and you can add an optional power strip.
Being adjustable is what Populas’s family of Equity Bi-Level Workstations is all about. The tables can work with a variety of kids and grown-ups, even students in wheelchairs. The work tables have two surfaces, one for the notebook or computer screen and another lower one for the keyboard and mouse. The good news is that both are adjustable with a simple hand crank that can independently adjust the two surfaces up and down. Available in a variety of plastic laminates and wood veneers, the 48- by 16-inch table costs $962.
Forget everything you know about classroom furniture because Versatables’ Edison Electric Table will astound with its flexibility. The ADA-compliant table can move up and down as much as 26-inches, making it a traditional table or a standing desk, depending on the situation. The key is that the tabletop is on a track that has an electric motor to quickly move it up and down to the desired height. The table starts at $829 for a 36- by 24-inch surface.
Small students count for as much as large ones with CTA’s Kids Adjustable Activity Table for iPad. Able to adjust to three different heights: 4-, 11- or 20-inches, the table holds the slate securely on an easel that can be removed or flipped over to create a large flat work surface. It has a clear plastic screen to protect the pad. It’s available for $50.
Libraries are about much more than just books these days, and Bretford’s Library 2.0 furniture family can make it not only a place to read, but also to do research or work on a collaborative project. Sure, you can have an old-school library with uncomfortable oak chairs and tables, but Library 2.0 emphasizes comfort and the ability to plug in a computer or tablet just about anywhere. For instance, the Explore Teaming Table is perfect for a small group putting together a joint project with enough room for five kids, a monitor and power outlets for their computers. The company has a new library specification guide to help outfit a library for today and tomorrow.