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Local school applies for STEM grant: University FabLab inspires need

The Georgia Southern Business Innovation Group’s Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab) at City Campus has inspired local schools to enhance their own Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs.

William James Middle School has submitted a grant application for $100,000 for equipment for an expanded FabLab for their STEM program. This upgrade was largely inspired by the University’s FabLab at the City Campus downtown. The GS FabLab currently has 3-D printers, table saws, a laser cutter, CNC Router and hand tools to allow students, faculty and community members to bring their ideas to life.

The grant WJMS applied for is run as a contest through the Northrop Grumman Foundation, and WJMS is one of the top 25 finalists nationwide for the grant. This is the second year the contest has returned to help middle schools across the nation grow their STEM programs. Winning schools are selected through a voting process on Facebook based on video submissions. Only votes cast on Friday, Dec. 9 on the Facebook page will count toward helping WJMS.

Director of the WJMS STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) Amy Smith submitted the original proposal to the Foundation earlier this fall in the hopes of updating the school’s electronics and project storage as well as adding 3-D printers, a small greenhouse and group tables.

The University was awarded a grant for nearly $1.1 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to help build their FabLab in 2013. The Northrop Grumman Foundation grant will offer similar funding to help enhance the WJMS FabLab.

“William James Middle School partners with Georgia Southern University in many ways,” said Smith. “We have our annual Science & Engineering Fair with many faculty from Georgia Southern volunteering to judge student projects. GS professors have also mentored students with research projects. WJMS competes annually at the GS Science Olympiad Competition in February. Working together as a team, we are able to build community relationships and improve the quality of education that our students receive and the quantity of opportunities they have available for them. As a result, our students achieve more because of our partnership with Georgia Southern University.”

Click here to learn more about the WJMS’ entry in the contest, for which voting closes on Dec. 9. For more information about the Georgia Southern FabLab and Business Innovation Group, visit http://coba.georgiasouthern.edu/big/big-programs/fablab/.

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