KEWAUNEE – The Kewaunee School District was awarded a $25,000 matching grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. to establish or expand facilities for a fabrication laboratory, or “fab lab,” for its schools, the WEDC announced Tuesday.
A “fab lab” is a high-technology workshop equipped with computer-controlled manufacturing components such as 3-D printers, laser engravers, computer numerical control routers and plasma cutters. The grant program enables school districts to purchase such equipment for educational use by elementary, middle, junior high or high school students.
“WEDC has invested more than $3.9 million over the past seven years to provide 106 schools across the state with the equipment necessary to help students learn high-demand skills, including technology, manufacturing and engineering,” Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC, said in a press release. “Fab Labs benefit not only the students themselves with important technology and career skills, but they also benefit Wisconsin employers, who will be able to find workers with the right skills to allow their companies to grow and thrive.”
The Kewaunee district will use the grant money to upgrade some of its technology education equipment and buy new equipment, Superintendent Scott Fritz told the Star-News. That includes an upgraded plasma cutter, an engraver and silk screen printer.
Fritz said technical education teachers Randy Charles and Casey Mumper are working on plans for using the new and improved equipment for the school’s tech classes and STEM and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics for STEM, with Arts included for STEAM) education by the start of the next school year.
“It’s very exciting,” Fritz said. “We feel it’s a great opportunity to grow our tech education and get kids excited about science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
Along with the purely educational uses, Fritz said the district plans to start a student-run school store early in the next school year, and the upgraded or new tech equipment could allow students to print T-shirts and other gear, cut plaques and engrave items that could be sold in the store.
“We already are building the store into some students’ schedules for next year,” Fritz said.
Kewaunee is one of 21 school districts from across the state to win a Fab Lab Grant, with a total of $508,030 awarded. Seventeen districts were awarded the maximum amount of $25,000 for individual school districts, while one consortium of three districts was awarded $32,399. The program requires matching funds from each district.
For more information on the state fab lab program, visit wedc.org/fablabs.
Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or [email protected]
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