Bucks IU Receives $150k PAsmart Grant for Expanding STEAM and Computer Science Programs

The Bucks County Intermediate Unit (Bucks IU) is hon­ored to be 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. For more infor­ma­tion about Bucks IU STEAM pro­grams, please go to www.BucksIU.org/STEAM or con­tact the Bucks IU at STEAM@BucksIU.org.