Delran Public Schools Kick Off Series of STEM-Focused Events with New Innovation and Fabrication Lab

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By: SNJ Today Staff

DELRAN, N.J. – On Friday, Sept. 27th, the Delran STEM Ecosystem Alliance in partnership with the Delran Township Board of Education, Barnes and Noble of Moorestown, the Delran Education Association, Delran Parent Teacher Organization, and FableVision, kicked off its community event series in the Delran Innovation and Fabrication Laboratory with a special “technology meets literacy” connection.

The event, titled “Fab@School: Creating Bravely” will host over 200 teachers, students, and community members. Paul Reynolds, an author who co-founded FableVision, will be visiting Delran’s lab as well to speak at the event. The tour of the brand new Delran Innovation and Fabrication Lab included a professional development session for over 50 teachers, who were trained on the die-cut paper machines and software. The facilities were open for tours from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. so community members could see the computer design software in action. Interactive stations for youngsters also included die-cutting using Fab@School design software, an engineer design challenge, and demonstrations of some of the fabrication tools by the Student STEM Ambassadors from Delran High School.

Newly refurbished Delran Innovation and Fabrication Laboratory space. Photo courtesy of the Research and Development Council of New Jersey.

“The Delran Innovation and Fabrication Lab creates cross-curricular learning and discovery with real-world applications. It encourages all learners to explore technical skills through hands-on activities that coincide curricula. It’s an incredible way to learn!,” said Dr. Brian Brotschul, Delran Township’s Superintendent of Schools, in a press-release.

As Delran District’s Coordinators of STEM Initiatives and co-leads of the Delran STEM Ecosystem Alliance, Erica DeMichele and Mary Jo Hutchinson, were excited to share the event with students, staff, and families.

“The development of STEM ecosystems are vital to the career readiness of the students of today. We are thrilled to have partnerships with our STEM champions, like the PTO, DEA, Barnes and Noble and FableVision, to demonstrate how together, our children will thrive through this lab’s opportunities,” said Erica DeMichele in a press release.

Mary Jo Hutchinson said before the kick off began, “[This event] will allow students and families to engage in STEM learning activities together. Parents and caregivers will learn how a growth mindset helps us celebrate failed designs as important steps in the engineering process, as well as how to support their children’s STEM learning at home.”

A pair of 3D printers that young learners can use within the FabLab space. Photo courtesy of the Research and Development Council of New Jersey.

Construction work which began in December was completed on schedule for the 2019 opening of school. The newly refurbished site features laser cutters, 3D printers, vinyl cutters, heat presses, die-cut paper machines, and other tools for hands-on learning that teaches students important technological skills. Intended to become a central hub of STEM learning in Burlington County, the Delran Innovation & Fabrication Lab will provide STEM-rich experiences for Delran students, Kindergarten through High School, and include some of the most state-of-the-art, hands-on digital fabrication learning tools available. The lab will also provide opportunities for partnerships with higher education institutions. Currently, the Alliance is working closely with Rowan College at Burlington County to expand and enhance dual-enrollment credit opportunities for students and provide a pathway to enter various engineering programs with advanced standing.

The creation of the Fabrication Laboratory is an initiative led by the Delran STEM Ecosystem Alliance, a cross-sector partnership which launched in 2017 and seeks to provide all learners with access to high-quality STEM education and work opportunities. The Delran STEM Ecosystem Alliance is one of five designated STEM ecosystems across New Jersey, the others being: Liberty STEM Alliance, Newark STEAM Coalition, HSMC Tri-county STEM Consortium, and South Jersey STEM & Innovation Partnership. These ecosystems are part of a national and international community of 84 STEM learning ecosystems selected by the STEM Funders Network.

The New Jersey STEM Pathways Network, chaired by philanthropist Laura Overdeck, and managed by the Research & Development Council of New Jersey, supports all of the New Jersey STEM learning ecosystems.

The next event in the series will be titled, “Light Up the Winter Solstice” and takes place on Dec. 4. You can learn more about the Delran Innovation and Fabrication Lab and their upcoming events by visiting: http://www.delranschools.com/s_t_e_m