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Saturday, January 07, 2017

Mobile lab encourages students to 'figure things out' | Columbus Telegram

"The makers are coming to a school classroom, hallway or library near you — with the arrival of Nebraska Public Power District’s STEM Connections Lab." reports Jim Osborn, The Columbus Telegram.
Courtesy photo

The lab, which made a more than weeklong stop at the new Kearney High School this week and plans visits to the new Columbus High and Columbus Middle School in the spring, is a component of the Columbus-based utility’s Pathways to a Technical Future program.

“Simply put,” said Chad Johnson, senior education specialist for NPPD, “we want kids to figure things out. We want them to know that figuring it out is an employable skill in the work force.”

The growing makers education movement is open-sourced learning by doing or creating local “makerspaces” for design, engineering, fabrication and education, Johnson said.

The Pathways program aims to integrate local business and education through technology and student-led activities. The program offers connections between knowledge and application, leading students to come up with innovative ideas and solutions.

“We really want this to be on the kids,” Johnson said. “We want it to be self-guided and have them take ownership.”

Pathways includes four components: teacher professional development opportunities; online learning encompassing lessons, activities, presentations, videos and career connections; the portable STEM lab giving schools access to tools and equipment to encourage the makers mentality; and utilizing local partnerships (such as NPPD and CPS) for teaching.

The portable STEM Connections Lab made about a dozen 10-day visits to schools in 2016, including Humphrey St. Francis, and typically sets up anywhere there is space available in a school.

The lab consists of 11 technical stations, each housed in a portable cube that is unfolded and set up in a school classroom, hallway or library.

Source: Columbus Telegram