Students in West Bloomfield learn about autonomous vehicles during a visit in the Oakland Schools’ interactive STEMi lab.

Students in West Bloomfield learn about autonomous vehicles during a visit in the Oakland Schools’ interactive STEMi lab.

Photo provided by Amy Quinn


Hands-on lab sets out to engage Oakland students

West Bloomfield among first districts to try the mobile STEM experience

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published October 7, 2021

 Sixth graders from West Bloomfield Schools experience virtual reality headsets in the STEMi lab.

Sixth graders from West Bloomfield Schools experience virtual reality headsets in the STEMi lab.

Photo provided by Amy Quinn

 Robotics, coding, engineering and more STEM experiences are part of the hands-on STEMi lab, slated to visit every Oakland County school distinct within five years.

Robotics, coding, engineering and more STEM experiences are part of the hands-on STEMi lab, slated to visit every Oakland County school distinct within five years.

Photo provided by Amy Quinn

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OAKLAND COUNTY — This week, as you’re sitting down to read this article, sixth graders in the West Bloomfield Schools District are experiencing the latest innovations in science, technology, engineering and math first hand.

From Oct. 4-8, the students will be exploring Oakland Schools’ STEMi Mobile Innovation Station, a mobile lab designed to connect K-12 students with the most exciting developments in STEM industries.

Learners are able to engage with autonomous vehicles, collaborative robots, extended reality and smart manufacturing in the 1,000-square-foot lab, which can host 40 students at a time.

“The STEMi is the ultimate classroom for students. It provides them with hands-on learning opportunities, which is crucial for developing young minds,” Oakland Schools’ Superintendent Wanda Cook-Robinson said in a press release. “I am ecstatic the day is finally here that this mobile lab is available for all Oakland County students to utilize.”

The plan for the lab is to spend one week at each of the county’s 28 school districts, serving nearly 100,000 students within five years. More than 5,000 educators will benefit from the lab, too, with coordinating professional development opportunities. Oakland Schools will also offer a STEM equipment lending library, with items available to borrow for in-class learning.

Since the lab hit the road three weeks ago, it’s made stops in the Oak Park and Oxford school districts. This week, STEMi visits West Bloomfield. Amy Quinn, the district’s K-12 math and science coordinator, said the students spent last week gearing up for the arrival of STEMi with “technology integration stations,” created with help from Oakland Schools STEM consultants and featuring fun activities like Lego robotics, drones, extended reality and video game creation.

“Our focus is, ‘How can scientists and engineers use technology to support their goals?’” Quinn said. “After the STEMi, we’ll be focusing on career-readiness tasks.”

And that’s the aim, according to Jarrad Grandy, the executive director of student services for Oakland Schools.

“It cannot be overstated how important it is for students to be provided with career-readiness opportunities,” he said. “By engaging with the STEMi, students are learning about what future they could build.”

The STEMi was funded with grants from the Zakoff Family Legacy Fund, the Bosch Community Fund, the Community Telecommunications Network and Dell. For more information, visit oakland.k12.mi.us.

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