Memphis Community Schools STEM lab
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Memphis Community Schools STEM lab

Jul 26, 2023

Memphis Community Schools has officially rolled out its new STEM and Career Lab just before school starts.

The district held an open house for the lab on Wednesday evening at Memphis Junior and Senior High School. The lab will utilize project-based learning to teach students about STEM and computer aided design, also known as CAD. Superintendent Sara Dobbelaer said the lab would allow students to get certified in computer numerical control milling operation, 3D printing and laser engraving.

"Our goal is to have students acquire relevant and meaningful skills that will help them enter these industries post-graduation," she said.

The lab has five 3D printers, a laser engraving machine, and T-shirt press and two computer numerical control milling machines. It is located in the junior and senior high school media center.

In addition to the regular science credit classes students would take, the lab can also be used for credit recovery for those who need it.

Prior to the open house, 10 staff members were certified to train students in the lab. Dobbelear also participated in the training and said it was a wonderful experience. Out of the 10 trained staff members, four of them will be fully focused on teaching within the lab.

Student Success Advocate and Project Based Learning Facilitator Paula Danna will be one of the teachers inside the lab. She said being trained was really exciting and she can already picture future activities. As a teacher of around 27 years, she said it was great to learn something new to bring to the students.

She said she is used to drafting diagrams, so it was interesting to operate the new equipment.

"To see things come to life in a 3D way was fascinating for me," Danna said.

Danna said students have already given her project ideas for the class. She said the lab will open up the students' eyes to the many opportunities for their future careers.

Memphis Junior and Senior High School Principal Jesse Szatkowski said having the lab is an exciting addition to the school.

"We really took the media center and completely transformed it," he said. "This will be a great experience (students) can grow from and create projects that are meaningful to them."

Dobbelaer said the lab was paid for entirely with grant funding. The district was granted $150,000 for the lab, all of its materials and training. As of publication, the district has spent approximately $113,000 of the funding.

The district was awarded grant funding by St. Clair Community Foundation, 4 County Community Foundation, L&L Products and 98C Learning Loss grant.

Currently, students in grades ninth through 12th can take classes in the STEM and Career Lab. There will also be one junior high elective class available. Dobbelaer said these classes will be capped at 20 students each so the staff can ensure the program's success.

Contact McKenna Golat at [email protected] or 810-292-0122.

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