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Avondale Innovates

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Avondale Mobile STEAM Lab Project

Vision: Leverage momentum in the world of “making” and deliver this creative educational movement to the students in the Avondale Elementary School District.

Challenges: Not enough available space or funding to equip classrooms at all 9 schools at exactly the same time. Some students could miss opportunities while waiting for MakerSpaces to be built at their site.

Solution: Bring the MakerSpace to each school on a rotating basis, provide a hub of hands-on discovery, a place for learners to share ideas, and explore areas interest and collaborate with their peers. 

Funding Source: Thank you to the generous voters in the Avondale Elementary School District for approving the Capital Override in November 2013! The voters approved the Capital Override for furniture, fixtures, technology and equipment in our district, and we believe this to be an innovative way to spread these funds amongst all our campuses.

What is a MakerSpace and what is Making: A MakerSpace is a collaborative work space inside a school, library or separate area for making, learning, exploring and sharing that uses high-tech to no-tech tools. These spaces are open to students of all ages and have a variety of equipment and supplies including 3D printers, robotics, microprocessors, and electronic circuits. A makerspace however doesn’t need to include all of these things or even any of them to be considered a MakerSpace. If you have cardboard, Legos and art supplies you are in business.

It is more of the Maker mindset of creating something out of nothing and exploring your own interests that is at the core of a MakerSpace. These spaces are also helping to provide our students with critical 21st century skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). They provide hands on learning, help with critical thinking skills and even boost self-confidence. Some of the skills that are learned in a MakerSpace pertain to electronics, 3D printing, 3D modeling, coding, robotics and even sewing. Makerspaces are also fostering entrepreneurship and are being utilized as incubators and accelerators for business startups in the private and public sectors.

We started with a standard yellow school bus about to be retired from daily use and made a few modifications. We added a generator to provide power to the bus at any and all times without the need to find external power through extension cords. There are now outlets under every table for charging of devices if needed. We also added heat pumps to cool the bus in the hot Arizona summers and heat it in the winter. Then we changed the seating around inside the bus to create areas of exploration and collaboration. We added additional portable tables and chairs to allow us to work just outside the bus so we also added an awning to protect students from the sun. And lastly we “wrapped” the bus to let every student know when the Mobile STEAM Lab was going to be at their school. They will definitely see this bus sitting in the parking lot waiting for them to climb aboard and explore.


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