Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 9, 2018

Eight additional schools to receive Volkswagen eLabs

Eight additional schools in Hamilton County will receive digital fabrication equipment as part of the Volkswagen eLabs initiative. - Photograph provided

Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations, in partnership with the State of Tennessee, Hamilton County Department of Education and Public Education Foundation, have selected eight additional Hamilton County schools to receive digital fabrication equipment as part of the Volkswagen eLabs initiative.

Volkswagen eLabs, the result of a $1 million donation by Volkswagen Chattanooga and the state, provide students access to digital fabrication tools including automated manufacturing equipment, programmable microcomputers, renewable energy kits, 3D printers, robotics, laser cutters, and other emergent technologies that will empower them to engage in authentic problem solving.

The eight schools are Brainerd High School, Brown Middle School, Center for Creative Arts, Hixson Middle School, Hixson High School, Ooltewah Middle School, Orchard Knob Middle School and Soddy Daisy Middle School.

The eight schools represent the second round of recipients for the Volkswagen eLabs, fulfilling Volkswagen’s commitment to open a total of 16 eLabs in Hamilton County schools over a two-year period.

After extensive site visits, schools were selected by representatives from Volkswagen Chattanooga, Tennessee Department of Education, TNECD, HCDE and PEF.

The eight chosen schools were required to identify a team of four teachers, including a Volkswagen eLab specialist, who will serve on the Volkswagen eLab Innovation Team to ensure each Volkswagen eLab is used to its maximum capacity. The schools are each responsible for raising $5,000 annually in cash or contributed materials to ensure that the lab is continually refreshed and materials are replaced.

“The Volkswagen eLabs have created an excitement for learning,” says Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of HCDE. “These labs open a new world of possibilities in instruction for teachers and prepare students for the world they will live in tomorrow.”

The original eight Volkswagen eLabs officially opened in August of 2017. Since then, more than 1,500 HCDE students have had the opportunity to learn and explore areas of STEM previously unavailable to them. HCDE teachers have logged more than 4,000 person hours of training and 88 percent indicate that students who have meaningful experiences in Volkswagen eLabs are more engaged in their work in traditional classes.

“In less than a single year, we’ve launched 16 digital fabrication labs. That’s amazing,” says PEF President Dr. Dan Challener. “But what’s every bit as amazing are the solutions our students are developing to solve real world problems.”

Students, with support of the Volkswagen eLab specialists and teachers, have designed 3D printed orthopedic devices for people and pets with special needs. Seven of the eight labs launched student-run entrepreneurial ventures dubbed Ed Corps in partnership with Real World Scholars, a nonprofit e-commerce platform that allows teachers to operate a classroom-based business.

Students from the Volkswagen eLab at the Howard School and Red Bank High School partnered with students from the Fab Lab at STEM School Chattanooga to pioneer HCDE’s first multi-campus, international, project-based learning unit. Students also worked with the Global Institute for Urban Mobility & Urban Planning, which aims to conduct research on the viability of autonomous electric vehicles in Chattanooga.

The program is administered in partnership with the PEF, an independent nonprofit organization that provides training, research and resources to teachers, principals and schools in Hamilton County. Michael Stone, PEF Director of Innovative Learning, will continue to help equip the Volkswagen eLabs as well as design and lead the professional learning of the educators in the newly announced labs.

Source: Volswagen Chattanooga