Fab Lab prepares students for the modern workforce

September 18, 2014

Karolina Buczek


THREE LAKES - Students in Three Lakes will learn how to use new technology like 3D printers and laser cutters this year. It's all part of the district's brand new Fab Lab.

Fab Labs have the most modern manufacturing equipment. Students will learn to use the same tools that businesses use. The lab manager thinks that will help students from Three Lakes get better jobs.

"One of the things employers are looking for are students who can work through a process like the engineering process we use," says Dr. Steve Yahr, the Fab Lab manager. "The other things employers are looking for students who are not afraid of technology."

Teachers think students need to know how to use modern technology because it'll help them in the workforce.

"Technology is increasingly finding it's way into the workplace," says Yahr. "Employers are looking for people who can use technology like this, work their ways through problems, and finish up their projects like they'll be doing in the workforce."

The lab isn't like a normal classroom. Students get projects to work through instead of taking exams. Teachers think that will help improve students' critical thinking.

The lab will also work closely with local businesses to help students become better employees.

"We're going to be working with [local businesses] to see what skills they're looking for," says Yahr. "Then [we'll figure out] how to map the learning experiences that our students are going to get to ensure that they develop those skills."

The lab is the first K-12 Fab Lab in the state. School leaders think it's better to introduce students to the engineering design process as early as possible. The goal is to teach students to think differently to solve problems.

"It's an open ended curriculum. The students work through a project and if they run into an issue working through the project, they stop, they back up, they think about what they're doing, and they move forward again," says Yahr.

The lab was funded through a $132,000 grant from the state Department of Workforce Development.

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