The STEAM Lab has been up and running for over a year now and I think it’s safe to say that we’ve done some exciting and innovative things! And since the STEAM Lab isn’t a static event, but rather an evolving series of programs, we’re constantly planning the next thing. Next school year will bring sewing classes and Girls Who Code to the STEAM Lab along with additional exploratory programs for elementary students. All of these programs will make excellent use of the technology we already have tucked neatly away in our cabinets, but I’m ready to start experimenting with new tools. I thought I’d take a moment to share my top three wishlist items!
The first is also the smallest. I’m a Google user with an Android phone, a Chromebook I use for personal computing, and all of my digital info stored across Google’s many platforms. This winter I bought my first Google Cardboard and have been experimenting with how I can incorporate Virtual Reality (VR) into the STEAM Lab. I’m especially curious about Google’s new Tilt Brush – a tool that lets users interact, alter, and draw on their environment while wearing a VR headset. It’s a little like Photoshop set free from a computer. I can think of a dozen things I want to do with one and I can only imagine what great things students (of all ages!) can come up with!
My second wishlist item is the largest and the most expensive. It’s also the one I’m most itching to get my hands on. The Glowforge is a 3D laser printer that can both cut and engrave. It’s precise enough to cut dovetails into wood for doll houses but gentle enough to engrave on chocolate. It’s easy to use, safe for the environment, and the possibilities with the Glowforge are absolutely endless. And when partnered with our existing 3D printers, we would be able to create an astounding amount of things.
I learned about the last thing on my wishlist from looking at the tech lab at a library in Oregon. The Hermiston Public Library owns an EggBot. I do so love robots and was immediately curious about an Egg Robot. Well, this little beauty may not be what we think of when we hear the word robot, but in many ways it’s so much better. When a user creates an image file – a logo, a photo, or a drawing – and sends it to EggBot, the robot will then replicate the file. That doesn’t sound too exciting until you realize that it will take a flat image and alter it so that it fits perfectly on a curved or round object!
Want to know the best thing about the EggBot? There’s one currently on its way to the library! Thanks to the continued and generous support of the Friends of UDPL, I was able to order one this morning. It’s going to take me some time to build it and work out the kinks, but I’m pretty sure you’ll be seeing golf balls emblazoned with the UD Township logo before too long!
The STEAM Lab is open for free exploration and experimentation for students in grades 6-12 every Monday (from 1-2p) this summer. Feel free to stop by and see what’s going on!