The Barstow School set to turn old Leawood Hy-Vee into ‘Idea Space’ for kids throughout KC metro

IDEA Space KC, The Barstow School's learning resource, will break ground in September inside an old Hy-Vee grocery store in Leawood. Above, a design rendering of the Incubation Hub, one space inside the entire project where students would be allowed to develop their own ideas and solutions to problems. Image courtesy The Barstow School.

The Barstow School is making headway on IDEA Space KC, an innovative learning resource that will be located inside an old Hy-Vee grocery store in Leawood.

Located at 12200 State Line Road, IDEA Space KC will be a 32,000-square-foot STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics — center open to public, private and homeschool students from kindergarten through 12th grade throughout the greater Kansas City metro area.

The Barstow School plans to break ground Sept. 1.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption to education in recent times. IDEA Space KC will play a vital and unique part in our region’s educational recovery and impact thousands of students,” said Shane Foster, president of The Barstow School.

“It will meet the critical need for programs and spaces where children can regain lost learning and build new knowledge and skills through hands-on, experiential and collaborative learning,” he added.

Above, an early design rendering of IDEA Space KC at 12200 State Line Road.

Jennifer Dreiling, vice president of external development for The Barstow School and IDEA Space KC, said the school’s goal is to have all students within an 8-mile radius of the facility to have 15 hours of time in IDEA Space KC each year.

Exposure to the various equipment and resources ideally will build students’ confidence and help students feel comfortable within the space, she added.

“Really, this is a community resource,” Dreiling said. “This is built with the intention and plans to educate thousands of students throughout Kansas City.”

IDEA Space KC is slated to open in summer 2022.

Once open, the $8 million facility will provide after-school programs, summer camps, partnerships with local school districts and other programming opportunities, according to a press release.

The city of Leawood approved the school’s plans earlier this spring.

The school’s original plans for the space had been to utilize the entire 65,000-square-foot building for a $20 million investment. However, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the school paused fundraising efforts, took a closer look at the project and heard from local community leaders about their priorities, Dreiling said.

As a result, The Barstow School adjusted the scope of the project to ensure IDEA Space KC could get up and running as soon as possible.

“We realize that this space, even more so than ever, needs to be created and that when we come out of COVID-19, this collaborative space for children to learn to get out of their kitchens or their bedrooms where they’ve been learning, and into a world-class facility would be transformational for their learning,” Dreiling said.

The new plans for IDEA Space KC have doubled the footprint of the STEAM space from 15,000 to more than 30,000 square feet. The center includes four dedicated spaces within the building:

  • Makerspace with pipe cleaners, crafts, building supplies and prototyping materials, etc.
  • Technology Lab with interactive space, including high-tech equipment and computers, artificial intelligence, robotics, advanced manufacturing, etc.
  • Fabrication Workshop for skilled trades such as CNC router, woodworking equipment and painting.
  • Incubation Hub, space for collaboration by students to dream, put their ideas on paper, develop business models and have mentorship and classroom time.

Dreiling said they hope to start early, particularly with third graders, and cultivate students at much younger ages for STEAM careers and opportunities.

Design work is wrapping up on IDEA Space KC. Once completed, “it will not be recognizable as an old grocery store,” Dreiling said.

Check out these design renderings for the project.

The Makerspace of IDEA Space KC.


The Technology Lab for IDEA Space KC.


The Fabrication Workshop for IDEA Space KC.


A floor plan for IDEA Space KC.