LA County Students to Build STEM Skills in Fab Labs
California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) is gaining a fleet of four fabrication laboratories, or “fab labs,” that are part of a global network of 900 mobile labs. Local middle school students in Los Angeles County will soon be able to visit a fab lab to build STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills first-hand through experiments and activities.
The fab labs were created by CSUDH with help from Toyota, the W.M. Keck Foundation and Motivo Engineering to address several issues described as “the heart of the STEM crisis” by the organizations:
- The need for qualified science and math teachers in K–12;
- A lack of STEM experiences that engage students; and
- A demand for more minorities graduating with STEM degrees and pursuing related work.
Fab labs, for instance, will offer cutting-edge industry tools to engage middle school students and educators in STEM learning. Equipment includes 3D printers and scanners, modeling software, laser cutters and other tools to prototype projects. The labs will support STEM-related activities and competitions for students as well.
Driving the initiative is the idea that CSUDH is part of the K–12 environment, and that the degree to which middle school students feel better prepared impacts their decision to pursue STEM degrees and jobs. The fab labs aim to help students (particularly in low-income, diverse areas) take theoretical concepts and put them into practice through project-based learning.
In addition, Toyota has donated $4 million to build the Toyota Center for Innovation in STEM Education within CSUDH’s new Science and Innovation building, according to information from the company.
The unveiling and demonstration for the fab labs and facility will take place on Sept. 27 at 10 a.m. at the public university. To learn more about the fab labs, watch the video below.