STEM Education

Fairfax High School Opens New Innovation Lab

A Fairfax County high school has added a maker space thanks to two parents who donated the funding. According to the Virginia district, the launch of Chantilly High School's new Innovation Lab began with an email to the Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools from Sekhar and Malini Puli, who wanted to make a lasting donation to the school and its students, including daughter Roshni and son Pranav. They'd seen the growing popularity of makerspaces in schools and wanted to provide Chantilly students with the same opportunities to explore their own ideas.

Fairfax High School Opens New Innovation Lab 

The lab was designed to resemble an Apple store, with floor-to-ceiling glass walls, whiteboard walls where students can take notes and share ideas and multiple stations where they can use, explore and experiment alone or in teams.

A specialist is on hand to lend support and guidance to students when they request it. While the lab is open before and after school for students, it'll also be used by classes. A student volunteer set up a digital scheduling system, allowing people to sign up for specific areas, which include audiovisual technology, a "take-apart" station, robotics, Arduino boards, 3D scanning and printing and game design. Videos have been produced and made accessible by QR codes, to show students how to get started.

"It's like a YouTube video come-to-life," said Roshni Puli, in a video. "You take it at your own pace. You pause when you want to. You come back when you want to."

"There's an ancient saying that the most powerful thing in the world is the human thought, for it doesn't have any boundaries physical or logical, and everything here started with that thought," explained Sekhar Puli during a ribbon cutting ceremony for the lab. "We hope these kids will be able to change the world over the next 20 to 25 years,"