Educators are utilizing education technology to repurpose old trailers and buses to create mobile education spaces, classrooms on wheels where students are able to experience what STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) has to offer.
With the help of new tools designed for mobility, such as Cradlepoint access points for internet-connected school busses or smaller portable 3D printers, mobile classrooms are becoming a feasible way for passionate educators to expand their reach.
This new mode of education transportation also means new avenues for districts that may not have enough resources to fund state-of-the-art makerspaces or modern classrooms, both for traditional and after-school programs.
With the education spotlight on mobility and education equity, these roving resources may be the next step in using technology integration to narrow the education gap among K–12 students.
Future Teachers Are On Board for Mobile Classrooms
Finding the resources to create a mobile makerspace may seem daunting, but many higher education institutions see the value of introducing K–12 students to STEM and are excited to contribute.
In Georgia, Kennesaw State University’s Bagwell College of Education created the iTeach MakerBus, a mobile tech hub for K–12 students within 100 miles of the university’s campus, The Sentinel reports. The creators incorporate the latest makerspace technology, such as building sets and high-tech laser cutters, to promote hands-on learning and empower students.
“We feel like the most important thing that students and teachers will take away from the MakerBus is the innovation and power that Maker Education can bring to learning,” Stephanee Stephens, director of KSU’s iTeach Center, tells The Sentinel. “We have all the most popular and innovative tools on the bus, but we want students and teachers to walk away with the knowledge that they can make anywhere and with any level of tools that they possess.”
Mobile Makerspaces Provide Kids with Skills for the Future
Universities are not alone in their desire to get K–12 students interested in STEM. Local companies are jumping in on the idea to introduce students to useful, technical skills through mobile makerspaces.
In Connecticut, Goodwin College worked with three major state defense contractors to create a high-tech classroom on wheels designed to teach middle and high school students about careers in manufacturing.
Students across the state are able to enjoy the retrofitted trailer turned mobile lab. The vehicle houses 13 workstations, soldering and 3D printing equipment, an air compressor and power tools, a borescope to find defects in pipes, devices to measure fatigue in materials, and other equipment, the Hartford Courant reports.
“A big part of it is exposing them to how cool it is,” says Steve Socolosky, a technology education and engineering teacher at the Capital Regional Education Council’s Academy of Aerospace and Engineering in Windsor, Conn., referring to manufacturing. “It’s learning how things are made.”