Bucks IU Expands Their STEAM Education Program to Include a Fab Lab Center (Opening December 2021)

Building on the suc­cess of their Mobile Fab Lab (Fabrication Laboratory), the Bucks County Intermediate Unit (Bucks IU) is excit­ed to announce the open­ing of a Fab Lab Center in December 2021 for sched­uled events and activ­i­ties.  Located at One Ivybrook Blvd., Suite 150, Warminster PA, the new Fab Lab Center will expand upon the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) edu­ca­tion pro­grams the Mobile Fab Lab has been bring­ing to the stu­dents of Bucks County since the Fall of 2019.  Educators, stu­dents, and indus­try stake­hold­ers will now have a unique loca­tion spe­cial­ly designed to sup­port a more in-depth engage­ment in STEAM learning.

STEAM edu­ca­tion helps pre­pare stu­dents for tomorrow’s work­force, which will require stu­dents to be skilled in com­put­er sci­ence and dig­i­tal fab­ri­ca­tion.  The new Fab Lab Center pro­vides yet anoth­er way of engag­ing and stim­u­lat­ing inter­est in the wide vari­ety of STEAM future careers and opportunities. 

  • In Pennsylvania
    - Through 2026, 590,000 employ­ment posi­tions will be avail­able and 9% of those will be STEAM jobs
    - Over the next 10 years, over 71% of all jobs will require com­put­er sci­ence skills
  • STEAM, health, and busi­ness majors gen­er­al­ly earn the high­est salaries 
  • Research shows that STEAM instruc­tion offers ben­e­fits in a student’s post-secondary career, even if that stu­dent does not pur­sue a STEAM career

Something for Everyone

The Fab Lab Center will be offer­ing after school, week­end, and sum­mer STEAM pro­grams for stu­dents of all ages. After-school clubs will run for six-week ses­sions, meet­ing for 60–90 min­utes once each week. Saturday pro­grams will offer more-in depth learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, run­ning for 3 hours. Clubs and pro­grams will be offered for Engineering and Design, Coding with Robotics, Advanced Coding with Arduino, Community Service through Hydroponics, Making through Digital Fabrication, and much more!

The first STEAM Saturday will be held on December 11, 2021 and after-school clubs will launch in January 2022. Registration infor­ma­tion will be post­ed on the Fab Lab Center web­site (www.BucksIU.org/FabLab/Events) with reg­is­tra­tion open­ing for both the STEAM Saturday and after-school clubs on November 8, 2021 at 8:00 am. On the Contact page of the site, those inter­est­ed in being kept updat­ed on Fab Lab pro­grams can also join the mail­ing list.

Educators will find the new Fab Lab Center offers a place to engage in pro­fes­sion­al learn­ing and train­ing on a myr­i­ad of STEAM, dig­i­tal fab­ri­ca­tion, and com­put­er sci­ence top­ics. For exam­ple, teach­ers can learn more about block cod­ing and robots, use of dig­i­tal design and fab­ri­ca­tion tools like Tinkercad, and how to inte­grate all aca­d­e­m­ic sub­ject areas with STEAM.  Teachers and admin­is­tra­tors will also be able to look to the Fab Lab Center as a des­ti­na­tion for edu­ca­tion­al, inter­ac­tive school field trips.

For com­mu­ni­ty busi­ness­es, the Fab Lab Center will be offer­ing team build­ing and retreat-style workshops.

Bucks IU Mobile Fab Lab

After receiv­ing a PAsmart Advancing Grant two years ago from Governor Tom Wolf, the Bucks IU unveiled their Mobile Fab Lab.  The Mobile Fab Lab, one of just 50 in the coun­try, will con­tin­ue to pro­vide “STEAM Education on the Go,” by deliv­er­ing dig­i­tal fab­ri­ca­tion and com­put­er sci­ence learn­ing expe­ri­ences direct­ly to the stu­dents of Bucks County. The pro­gram is facil­i­tat­ed by a Program Coordinator and brings with it all the tech­nol­o­gy, equip­ment, and sup­plies need­ed to deliv­er cus­tomized learn­ing expe­ri­ences to ele­men­tary and mid­dle school students.

The Mobile Fab Lab is ful­ly reserved this year for one-week res­i­den­cies at schools through­out Bucks County.  Additionally, the Bucks IU’s spe­cial­ty and sum­mer STEAM pro­grams with the Mobile Fab Lab con­tin­ue to be in high demand.  A sec­ond PAsmart Advancing Grant allowed the Bucks IU to col­lab­o­rate with the Bucks County Free Libraries to pro­vide FREE hands-on learn­ing expe­ri­ences for chil­dren at library loca­tions over this past sum­mer.  Interest was so high for these sum­mer pro­grams that in just a few days, over 700 peo­ple reg­is­tered for infor­ma­tion.  The Mobile Fab Lab will also con­tin­ue to pro­vide a vari­ety of spe­cial­ty learn­ing pro­grams for home­less shel­ters through­out the region as well as Saturday pro­grams at loca­tions through­out the Bucks County.

Supporting STEAM Education

The Bucks IU Fab Lab STEAM pro­grams make learn­ing fun and engag­ing for both chil­dren and adults.  The Mobile Fab Lab and new Fab Lab Center encour­age curios­i­ty, cre­ativ­i­ty, artis­tic expres­sion, col­lab­o­ra­tion, com­pu­ta­tion­al think­ing, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, prob­lem solv­ing, crit­i­cal think­ing, and design think­ing.   For more infor­ma­tion, please go to www.BucksIU.org/FabLab