State of the Art Equipment Available In Fab Lab
There’s a new STEM lab in the Mansfield School District, and students and teachers alike are finding it to be, well, fab, as in fabulous.
Mouser Electronics, Inc., with its continued support of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in the MISD through technology grants, unveiled the Fab Lab in the late fall of 2020. It’s all part of Mouser’s help in providing educators with engaging opportunities for students.
The Fab Lab allows students to use engineering principles to design and fabricate items with new computers and 3D printers. The lab’s vibrant green color palette creates an exciting and creative environment for its students. Featured in the lab are state-of-the-art 3D printers and electronic design equipment, as well as tools such as voltmeters and soldering irons.
“On behalf of the MISD Education Foundation, we are very appreciative to Mouser Electronics for their consistent support and generosity to make a direct impact on our STEM programs,” said Lynn Wilkie, Executive Director of the MISD Education Foundation. “Mouser has long been an outstanding example of what forward-thinking business and institutions can do to ensure our students will be prepared for the future.”
The idea was a collaboration between Frontier STEM Academy, the Mansfield ISD Education Foundation and Mouser Electronics.
Mouser: Giving Back To Local Community
“Every year, we support the MISD Education Foundation, and this project was in their plans. Since our company’s founding, education has been important to us,” said Kevin Hess, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Mouser Electronics.
“Mouser was excited to be able to contribute funding to this particular initiative. Supporting STEM education falls in line with our mission to give back to our local community by helping to nurture students in science, technology, engineering and math.”
Michael Fore, Associate Principal of the Frontier STEM Academy, said the school wanted to provide MISD learners the opportunity to be hands-on with their learning as much as possible, and to be able to explore the many different aspects of STEM.
“The goal is for learners to be able to create anything they need to in order to help with their learning,” he said. “This room is also used for group projects and individual projects. When the school thought of the idea, the MISD Education Foundation and Mouser Electronics worked to fund the project. It took about nine months of planning to bring this idea to life.”
In this, its inaugural school year, the lab is accessible to freshmen only. However, Fore said the school is adding a grade level each year until it is accessible for grades 9-12.
Project Based Learning Encourages Solutions to Unique Problems
“Learners have quite a bit of flexibility in what they can do in this room,” Fore said. “As long as it relates to project-based learning, their Future Forward project, club work or anything else relating to school, then the learners are allowed to do it.”
Starting next year, Fore noted that Frontier STEM Academy will have Mechatronics, which is a SkillsUSA competition. This will be one of the clubs that the school will have available during the school day.
And the biggest benefit? Having access to equipment that would not necessarily be in the regular classroom. Fore said it teaches students to learn how to fail successfully and to keep trying to come up with solutions to unique problems.
“It prepares them for life after school because they are learning how to encounter real-world problems and persevere through the process of thinking outside of the box to solve the problem,” he said. “In Frontier STEM Academy classes, designers do not give problems to learners that just have one right answer. They are able to problem solve through a variety of techniques and resources.”
Hess said the biggest benefit for Mouser is “knowing we are helping local students and teachers by providing resources and technology to enhance their classroom experience and prepare them for the future.”
Over the past decade, Mouser has assisted the MISD with multiple initiatives, Hess noted. These include drone and robotics programs, solar car team sponsorship, STEM educational carts, Maker Spaces in the high school libraries and more.
And, like all before, the Fab Lab concept is a big hit with the students.
Future Forward Projects Connect Students With Local Businesses
“I like the tools we are able to use, like the 3D printer. Everything is technology-driven, and as long as we are wanting to use the STEM lab to achieve some type of goal, we have access to it,” said freshman Isaiah Gomez. “It’s like a controlled free-for-all.”
Another activity that takes place in this lab are the Future Forward projects. This is where the learners collaborate with local businesses to try to solve a problem and create a viable product. For this year with the freshmen class, Fore said they have over 30 business partners.
“The Mansfield ISD Education Foundation does a tremendous job in helping administer and fund special grants for the teachers and schools,” Hess said. “We hope the students enjoy the STEM Lab and discover a passion for innovation as many will go onto become our future leaders, scientists and engineers.”