Mobile STEM Lab Gears up for Another Year

Mobile STEM Lab Gears up for Another Year
L to R: Tarrin Burrows (CCPD), Jill Smith (BD), Jon Nixon (BD), Senator Matt Williams, Lt. Governor Mike Foley, Rick Nelson (CPPD), Jenny Fox (CAPABLE), Chad Johnson (NPPD)

CUSTER COUNTY—A mobile STEM lab is preparing to once again travel to area schools in the sandhills. For the second year in a row, thirteen schools will experience the hands-on labs which focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Custer Public Power District (CCPD), Becton Dickinson (BD), and the Custer CAPABLE program collaborated and created a trailer full of STEM stations, which gave more than 1,100 students grades seven and up the opportunity to learn and practice manufacturing skills in its first year.

Teachers and students gathered on Monday afternoon at the CPPD offices in Broken Bow to ask questions, generate ideas, and train on the 10 different STEM stations. Local entities drew inspiration from the STEM lab created by Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) to create modules specifically for this area.

NPPD Senior Education Specialist Chad Johnson told KCNI/KBBN the state’s STEM lab is in its third year of traveling across Nebraska and will once again visit 16 different schools this year. He said that thanks to the local businesses and CAPABLE program, students in our area will get to experience the stations year after year.

Johnson said other counties are also working on mobile STEM labs. He encouraged those in attendance to continue making connections and to be innovative. “Being innovative is a huge part of our economy in Nebraska,” Johnson said.

Nebraska Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley visited Custer County on Monday and told students the importance of keeping all career opportunities in mind.

“We’re an ag state, that’s what we do. It’s the backbone of our economy. But did you know today, 100,000 Nebraskans went to work in high-tech manufacturing. Building everything from lawn mowers to jet skis and subway cars… exporting these high quality goods to every corner of the globe,” Lt. Governor Foley said.

District 36 Senator Matt Williams was also present on Monday afternoon and echoed the sentiments of the Lt. Governor by saying that a four-year education is great, but might not be for everyone.

“The alternatives and the options that you have today and that you’re being exposed to, can really change the world,” Senator Williams said.

The $120,000 hands-on project includes a 3D printer, CNC mill, virtual reality, manufacturing, robotics, and sensory labs, as well as a 2D vinyl cutting machine. The mobile STEM lab will kick off the 2018-2019 school year in Thedford starting Monday.

STEM Team Lead Jon Nixon, of BD, and HR Director Jill Smith broke down some of the numbers regarding the Mobile STEM lab’s first year’s impact:

Area Schools = 13
Educators Trained in STEM maker spaces = 52
Total Hours of service by partners = 873 hrs.
Student Participated in STEM leaning = 1,100
STEM LAB Miles Traveled = 3,162 miles
Total STEM Learning = 14,400 hours

Schools Participating
Broken Bow
Loup County
McPherson County

2018-19 STEM Connection Lab Calendar
Date Block School Name
8/27-9/12 Thedford
9/12-9/28 Arnold
10/1-10/17 Anselmo-Merna
10/17-11/2 Callaway
11/5-11/21 McPherson County
11/26-12/12 Broken Bow
1/3-1/18 Ansley
1/21-2/6 Mullen
2/6-2/22 Litchfield
2/25-3/13 TBD
3/13-3/29 TBD
4/1-4/17 TBD
4/17-5/3 TBD

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