Students get hands-on experience with 21st-century technology

Mobile Maker Lab rolls into Kickemuit Middle School

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 2/8/20

For the past couple of weeks, Kickemuit Middle School students have had the opportunity to gain some exposure to CNC technology through the Mobile Maker Lab. CNC stands for Computer Numerical …

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Students get hands-on experience with 21st-century technology

Mobile Maker Lab rolls into Kickemuit Middle School

Posted

For the past couple of weeks, Kickemuit Middle School students have had the opportunity to gain some exposure to CNC technology through the Mobile Maker Lab. CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control. In CNC manufacturing, a computer converts a design produced by Computer Aided Design software (CAD), into numbers, or graph coordinates, which graph and control the movement of the cutter or printer, controlling the cutting (subtractive manufacturing) and shaping (additive manufacturing) of the material. It’s at the center of the type of modern manufacturing technologies that students today will be exposed to in the workplace of the future.

An initiative by the International Yacht Restoration School of Technology & Trades in Newport, the Mobile Maker Lab is a hands-on, mobile, learning platform exposing students to technologies associated with 21st-century manufacturing by engaging in project-based learning that align with a variety of career opportunities. It is housed in a 28’ x 8’ trailer and can accommodate about 8 to 12 students at a time. 

“She and I have about 250 kids each,” said teacher Stephanie Wirth, referring to fellow KMS STEM teacher Kerri Krawczyk. “In eight days they have all gotten in to make either a 3D printed object or a sticker.”

A public-private partnership, the R.I. Mobile Maker Lab works throughout the state, working with organizations and community groups, but with a special focus on schools. It is primarily funded by the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training.

The various technologies and features of the lab include 3D printers, CNC routers, laser and vinyl cutters, and embroidery machines.

According to Samantha Logler, one of the instructors, there’s a lot going on, and a lot of coordination involved with moving hundred of students through an enrichment experience at only 8 to 12 at a time, but it works.

“We have a pretty good system down,” she said. “It’s cool because it gives the kids an opportunity to express themselves.”

The students were clearly enjoying themselves, with some printing stickers with cutters while others printed 3D decorations like whale tails for Ms. Krawczyk’s underwater robotics station.

“I want to put a design on my Playstation controller because it’s kind of plain and looks a little boring,” explained Tyler Costa, grade 6, of Warren, while printing out an intricate sticker design he found on the internet.

Tommy Loiselle of Bristol, also a sixth-grader, preferred a bold Patriots logo for his sticker design.

It came with a hopeful prediction about Tom Brady’s future. “He has another season,” Tommy said. “He’s coming back.”

Availability of the Mobile Maker Lab is determined by the location’s interest and the lab’s availability; information is available at www.rimakerlab.com/contact.

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