Preschool Fab Lab
There is no limit to a child’s imagination.
That’s what Karen Brown, director of strategic initiatives for Euclid City Schools, believes is the primary point of the district’s new Fab Lab.
Located at the Early Learning Center at 22800 Fox Ave., the facility offers an experience where preschoolers can be creative, invent, explore and develop important inquiry skills and conceptual thinking.
According to the district, designing, building, tinkering, engineering and coding will enable young learners to build a deeper understanding of math and language skills that will help promote success as they enter kindergarten.
Out-of-school open lab sessions will allow children and parents to explore concepts learned in school, a critical education component, Brown said.
“Whatever they want to build, they can try it until they reach their goals. Whether it’s using high-tech tools or hammers and nails and pipes, they can learn to put things together. We hope this momentum will carry them through as they continue to foster interest in STEM. One of the things we’re struggling with throughout the county is, in fact, getting kids interested in STEM.
“I think part of that is because we try to teach science and math in such abstract ways,” Brown said. “Getting kids to recognize that building, thinking and designing is actually science and math prepares them for further education. Teaching them hands-on problem-solving and critical thinking will create more interest when they do reach the point of abstraction.”
The lab will also support educators and pre-service teachers wishing to increase their digital fabrication skills for implementation into their curriculum, the district detailed. Euclid Schools is partnering with Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM, headquartered in Cleveland, for the new Euclid Early Learning Center Fab Lab.
Early Learning Center was awarded a $237,000 grant for the Fab Lab through a Cuyahoga County preschool enrichment program.
The lab, according to Early Learning Center Principal Sanya Henley, is the first school-based preschool of its kind in the country, a fact Jeremy Shorr, director of digital innovation for TIES, happily attests to.
“I was speaking at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh (in May) and I mentioned what Euclid was doing,” he said. “At the end of my address, I had over 80 fair directors — some from South Korea, the United Kingdom, from Egypt and all over the United States — come up and ask me about Euclid. They want to learn about this because nobody else is doing it.
“We have to do more than just tell our children they can become whatever they wish, it doesn’t get through, that’s not how the analyzing brain works,” Shorr said. “Our kids need to be touching things, they need to be exploring things, they need to be interacting and solving problems. What Euclid has decided to do is one of the most exciting things I have ever seen. What Karen and Sanya have embarked on is unique and incredibly audacious, especially since this is just a starting point, not the final lab. I work all over the country and I talk about this district constantly. It’s really exciting.”