The Bucks County Intermediate Unit (Bucks IU) is the recipient of a $150,000 PAsmart Grant to expand the outstanding work of their Mobile Fab Lab. PAsmart grants are a program of Governor Wolf’s administration that aim to improve access to science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) education for all students and increase computer science education.
“Workers in all types of jobs increasingly need to use computers and technology,” said Governor Wolf. “In order to meet that demand, I launched PAsmart in 2018 to expand science and technology education. These grants will help our schools and communities to expand STEM and computer science education. That will strengthen our workforce, so businesses can grow, and workers have good jobs that can support a family.”
The Bucks IU received its first PAsmart grant in 2019 to design and launch their highly successful Mobile Fab Lab. The Mobile Fab Lab is a specially equipped transit van that brings interactive computer science and digital fabrication equipment not normally available in most schools directly to students in grades 1-8 throughout Bucks County.
The new grant awarded to the Bucks IU will allow an expansion of the Mobile Fab Lab’s STEAM and computer science programs to take education in these areas beyond the classroom.
To do this, the funds from this grant are focused on the development of three specific programs: an educational program for teachers called the Fab Fellows Program, an expansion of services to children experiencing homelessness, and a partnership to advance community involvement and education.
The Fab Fellows Program will be a hands-on, professional education opportunity for Bucks County teachers providing specialized learning in the areas of digital fabrication and computer science. Upon program completion, Fellows will continue to have virtual networking meetings and they will schedule a week-long residency at their school with the Bucks IU Mobile Fab Lab.
To support children experiencing homelessness, teachers from regional school districts experiencing higher homeless rates will be selected to become Fab Fellows.
These teachers will then partner with the Bucks IU’s Mobile Fab Lab to implement special STEAM, computer science, and digital fabrication programs in their districts.
To help take education beyond the classroom and support partnerships that advance community involvement, the Bucks IU will be working with Bucks County Public Libraries to offer some special daytime and evening STEAM, computer science, and digital fabrication programs to their communities.
“We are extremely proud of our Mobile Fab Lab and the outstanding STEAM, computer science, and digital fabrication programs it has already brought to so many students,” stated Dr. Mark Hoffman, Bucks IU Executive Director. “To now be able to expand upon that success to reach more students and provide professional development to educators through the award of another PAsmart grant is an opportunity we are humbled to receive and excited to launch.”
Dr. Lindsey Sides, Bucks IU Supervisor of STEAM Education, will be leading the management of these program expansions funded through this newly awarded PAsmart grant.