Vincennes University Launching D&I Studios in Elementary Schools

Vincennes University is launching Design and Innovation Studios in elementary schools throughout Indiana, in partnership, with the Indiana Next Generation Manufacturing Competitiveness Center (IN-MaC) at Purdue University. VU is boosting STEM education in K-8 schools to cultivate the next generation of high-tech thinkers and doers.

VU and IN-MaC are investing in youth in Dubois County and Perry County by purchasing equipment and technology, training the instructors, and implementing the curriculum.

The robot balls, cars, robotic arms, and the studios’ other cutting-edge educational tools offer elementary students hands-on experiences through the use of relevant STEM equipment and technology. The studios provide various opportunities for schools, educators, students, and industry to discover new ways to explore design thinking, problem-solving, technology, and creative skill sets.

Funding for the Design and Innovation Studios is made possible through VU’s $8 million Charting the Future for Indiana’s Colleges and Universities grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

Ribbon-cutting ceremonies took place earlier this month at new studios at Holland Elementary School and Northeast Dubois Elementary School in Dubois County and at Perry Central Elementary School in Perry County. According to Johnson, VU and IN-MaC are working with other school corporations, mostly in Southern and Southwestern Indiana, to deploy additional Design and Innovation Studios in 2022 and beyond.

During the ribbon-cuttings in Dubois and Perry counties, second and fourth-grade students demonstrated the state-of-the-art technology and shared what they were learning while having fun.

At Holland Elementary, a cup decorated to look like a bunny and with a Sphero robot ball underneath it zoomed across the floor of the school’s library. A recent activity involved students coding the robot balls and using them to maneuver the “bunny” through a maze challenge in an attempt to collect Easter eggs.

Haley Beagle, a fourth-grade teacher, and STEM Director cut the ribbon on Perry Central’s studio alongside her students. She explains they are gaining much through its learning opportunities, and she adds they love engaging with everything in the studio.

A recent assignment allowed Begle’s fourth-graders to put their studio’s 3D printers to use. Groups of students were assigned a book to read, then they picked a symbol they thought represented their book the best. They turned that symbol into a 3D object using the printers. Among the objects they created were an owl and a harmonica.

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