In a bid to increase access to STEM education, the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education has rolled out the “Innovation Station” for O‘ahu public schools.

The Innovation Station is a portable classroom equipped with 3D printers, laser printers, power tools, and STEM lessons that focus on physics, geology, and circuitry. Housed in a bright red shipping container, the Innovation Station will be deployed to different campuses across the O‘ahu public school district.

“We loved the idea of making it portable because we can drop it in any school,” said Kalani High School robotics teacher Bryan Silver, who helped lead the project’s development. “It’s getting more access to this technology out to our schools. It’s great that one school has one suite of really cool tech but it doesn’t give the opportunity for other teachers to put it in their classrooms and how they can use it.”

The lab was partially built by students at Kalani High School. Last spring, robotics students built out the counters and shelving units and installed all of the equipment. The project was funded through state and school funds.

“It’s a neutral space. You don’t have to worry about disturbing someone else’s classroom. Any (teacher) can use it,” Silver said.

The Innovation Station was first deployed at Kāhala Elementary School.

“It really opened my eyes to what we can do and how we can integrate these new technologies into today’s education,” said third-grade teacher Michael Klingberg.

At the elementary school, the mobile classroom was used to create models of bacteria, roaches, and worms, build models of buildings to learn about the U.S. Supreme Court and the various branches of government, and to make holiday ornaments.

“The kids were really blown away with the fact that they can come up with an idea, send it to a computer and then print it out of plastic,” said Klingberg.

The Innovation Station is run by Kalani High’s Team Magma Robotics, which hosts training sessions for staff of the receiving school on how to use the tools in the lab and assists in incorporating the technology into their classrooms.

“Future generations can explore their interest in STEM,” said Kalani sophomore Sydnie Melemai. As program manager of the station, she organizes the student teachers and lesson plans for each of the training sessions. “The Innovation Station allows (students) to broaden their horizons to different types of STEM,” she said.

The Hawaiʻi State Department of Education said the Innovation Station aligns with department’s goal to prepare all students for challenges and opportunities in the global economy by providing rigorous, equitable, and accessible education in STEM.

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