Fab Lab technology a hit with students

The Fab Lab is designed to bring advanced digital fabrication and computer science learning experiences to young students with several pieces of hi-tech equipment.
Posted on 10/12/2022
Teacher JoAnn Klee watches students create landforms using 3D software.By Gary Weckselblatt

Students at Neidig Elementary School received a big treat this week with a visit from the Bucks County Intermediate Unit’s Fab Lab, which gives students an opportunity to learn from cutting-edge technology designed to inspire and encourage them to pursue careers in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) fields.

The lab is a transit van that transports several carts full of equipment such as 3D printers, a laser engraver, CNC router, vinyl cutter, and a variety of robotics equipment. It also has laptop computers with specialized software programs to control and interact with the equipment.
The equipment is very expensive. Through PAsmart Grants, the BCIU received $150,000 for the Fab Lab, to expand teacher professional development, and expand the reach of the Fab Lab to county public libraries and school districts.

“They have been champing at the bit for this,” JoAnn Klee said of her students. “It’s a great program with wonderful opportunities for the kids.”

Mrs. Klee signed up for the popular program that’s in great demand for its one-week residencies. Her fourth-grade science students are the “priority” classes this week attending three 45-minute sessions. All other Neidig students attended one class.

The lessons are linked to Neidig’s curriculum. With students recently completing landforms, that is this week’s Fab Lab focus. Students worked with a 3D modeling program to build their landforms and were introduced to equipment that teaches them to become a fabricator.

“After studying landforms, this really brings it to life for them,” Mrs. Klee said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to be exposed to this in elementary school and may spark an interest to learn more at the high school level.”

Principal Scott Godshalk praised Mrs. Klee for organizing the Fab Lab’s visit to Neidig. “This is a unique experience for our students, and we are excited to have this learning opportunity here at Neidig,” he said. “It is inspiring to see our students fabricating evidence of their learning using these new tools. The Fab Lab also helps the teaching team identify new and exciting ways to engage students with our curriculum.”

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or [email protected].
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