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WNY Mobile STEAM & Maker Lab Create a Mobile Makerspace for Urban School District

Buffalo has its first mobile STEAM & makerspace. AT&T, Computers For Children (CFC) and the WNY STEM Hub have come together to launch the first WNY Mobile STEAM & Maker Lab Powered by AT&T. Moving forward, additional public and charter schools will be provided with the power of comprehensive resources and instruction that will allow students to successfully engage science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) education and career paths. Proponents of the initiative recently came together at the Buffalo Academy of Science to launch the 10 week program. Buffalo Academy of Science is the first school to engage the program. From there, other schools will be benefactors of the STEAM & Maker Lab.

NYS Senator Chris Jacobs took part in the rollout of the mobile lab and joined students trying out some of the technological and maker assets that the WNY Mobile STEAM & Maker Lab Powered by AT&T is equipped with to bring to schools.

The innovative educational initiative offer regional city schools’ students:

  • Hands-on demonstrations and classes
  • Increasing youth’s creativity and interest in STEAM fields through “learning by making,” offering  hands-on activities and access to technologies
  • Empowering the growing maker movement throughout the region and nation

“The goal of the program is to work with schools and science teachers to develop a culture of creative exploration in the after school hours; where students can experiment with STEAM concepts and engage in innovative play,” Christine Carr, executive director, CFC. “We are proud to be partnering with AT&T and the WNY STEM Hub to make this program a reality after a year of planning, attending to logistical needs and developing the engaging curriculum, and this innovative mobile program will impact student lives across Western New York by broadening their education.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor, much of the growth in the domestic and global economy will come from STEM-related jobs – a highly lucrative and competitive field. It is estimated by 2020 there will be 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs with more than half made up of digital engineering, computer and coding careers, underscoring the importance of providing youth the tools and skills necessary to compete in the innovation economy.

Students will be provided with the necessary scientific and tech building blocks that will allow them to participate in engineering science, energy science, magnetic science, rocket kits, light science, robotic kits and LEGO Engineering interactive kits, 3D printers, etc. Students work in groups, which allows them to learn about the importance of collaboration. A number of local companies have stepped up, to provide these young people with the tools that they need to further their knowledge in computing and technology. For example, Buffalo ed-tech startup, Thimble (featured on Buffalo Rising), has contributed it’s awesome electronic maker kits.

“I would like to thank AT&T for their great support and congratulate Computers For Children and Western New York STEM on the roll out of this new mobile STEM education program,” said New York State Senator Jacobs.  “These types of innovative partnerships and creative programs are exactly what schoolchildren of all ages need if we are to achieve our collective goal of better preparing our students for the high-tech, innovation economy of the future,” Jacobs added.

This program provides students with a makerspace setting that is conducive to learning. This space can be accessed throughout the school day, as well as after school. 

A makerspace is a place in which people with shared interests, especially in computing or technology, can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge, and to make this more accessible for more for students is the impetus of developing a mobile version.

WNY Mobile STEAM and Maker Lab Powered by AT&T is the type of learning program that is not only effective, it’s also ‘mobile’ which means that it can be utilized at public spaces as needed. A mobile STEM van with equipment and engaging curriculum will travel to schools, thus implementing the programs (created by Computers For Children, WNY STEM Hub and AT&T) on the fly. Partner schools that will soon be engaged include Tapestry Charter Middle School, Global Charter High School and MST [Buffalo #197]. All of the students that participate in this program will be taught practical workforce related elements such as coding, engineering, project-based learning, manufacturing, production skills, as well as the creative design process and critical thinking skills.

“AT&T is proud to collaborate with these dynamic organizations to develop and support this innovative experience for local young minds as it further enhances our commitment to providing resources for STEM-related educational programming throughout Western New York,” said Kevin Hanna, director, External Affairs, AT&T. “Our economy continues to transform at a robust pace – requiring a workforce with a focus on technological education and literacy – and STEM and innovative programs like this one are vital to ensure that the students of today are equipped to compete in the global innovation economy of tomorrow.”

“We are grateful to AT&T for seeing the need for a mobile maker space program that efficiently delivers equipment and creative technology experiences to schools that otherwise might not have access,” said Michelle Kavanaugh, president, WNY STEM Hub. We’re fortunate that Computers For Children has the talent to deliver the instruction. WNY STEM is pleased to be guiding the quality oversight for this program.”

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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  • G Orty

    I love this because I’m generally discouraged by the overemphasis on technology (STEM) without any on arts. I heard Bill Nye once justify integrating art education into technology by saying basically that it’s good to have cool colors on your lawnmower so they’ll be attractive and sell well. But it’s more about the development of the person, fostering empathy while introducing additional methods of critical thinking and problem solving. More of this!