Putting a Laser Focus on STEAM Skills
Looking to prepare students for STEAM careers, a Los Angeles school district is using a laser machine to create hands-on experiences and foster real-world problem-solving skills.
Lennox Public Schools, a Los Angeles-area district has created a new hands-on engineering initiative to provide students with real-world experience of STEAM in action. By analyzing industries that are in their area, such as aerospace giants SpaceX and Northrop Grumman, Lennox is focusing on STEAM programs to prepare their students for future careers.
To accomplish this goal, Lennox has created a school of engineering inside its middle school. The new school covers the normal curriculum, but with an emphasis on project-based learning. AP Lazer provided Lennox with its SN4024 laser machine for the students use. While the program is still in its infancy, Lennox plans to build its lessons around the engineering design process, analogous to the scientific method. The goal being to enable students to identify real problems and use tools like the laser machine to solve those problems.
Students will first learn the workflow needed to design simple two-dimensional products, such as engraved awards for the local science fair. Once that skill has been mastered, they will advance to 3D CAD design - both for 3D printed projects as well as designing dimensional projects for the laser machine. Early projects may include some kind of container or box where they can store their school supplies. The year end goal is to have each student use the laser to make a full-size piece of furniture, such as a chair or table.
The prospect of designing, prototyping, and cutting the plywood sheets on the AP Lazer SN4024 laser machine to create usable, full-size furniture has most students extremely excited. "Lennox understands that education needs to be practical versus academic," said David Strickler, president of AP Lazer. "Math and science are very academic, and you have to find different ways to show how they can be applied in the real world."
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