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WEDC awards Mosinee Fab Lab Grant for elementary school

April 30, 2024
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Image of Secretary Missy Hughes speaking about Fab Lab recipients

 Secretary Hughes urges more districts to follow Mosinee’s lead

MOSINEE, WI. April 30, 2024 – The Mosinee School District today received a $25,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to equip a new fab lab in its elementary school.

The Mosinee grant was one of 18 grants totaling more than $493,000 announced by Governor Tony Evers and WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes today in Muskego. Deputy Secretary Sam Rikkers visited Mosinee to congratulate the district on receiving its first fab lab grant.

A fab lab, short for fabrication laboratory, provides students with hands-on, high-tech learning opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) courses.

Although funding is available for labs in all grades, nearly 80 percent of the WEDC grants have been for middle and high school fab labs.

Secretary Hughes urged more school districts to follow Mosinee’s example. The district has a fab lab serving middle and high school students, and now, with the WEDC grant, will have a new lab to let elementary students explore additional avenues of learning.

“The earlier kids experience the joy of learning and having fun with their classmates as they explore these new technologies, the more engaged they will be as they advance in school and the more open they will be to careers in STEAM fields,” Secretary Hughes said.

Robert Wray, interim superintendent and co-director of instructional program, said the grant is especially timely as the school has been developing a STEAM program.

“We in the Mosinee School District very much want to cultivate the curiosity of our students and increase student engagement,” Wray said. “Fab labs give students the opportunity to create, to explore, and to engage in learning in a very joyful way. That’s really important to us.”

Typically, middle and high school fab labs are high-tech workshops equipped with computer-controlled manufacturing components such as 3D printers, laser engravers, computer numerical control (CNC) routers, and plasma cutters.

The equipment list for the Mosinee elementary school lab includes a 3Doodlers-Classroom Set, an Aquasprouts Aquarium garden system, a weather station to incorporate into STEM and tech lessons, and 3D and Bambu printers.

In another twist on traditional fab labs, the elementary workshop will be on wheels so teachers can move one unit or another into their classrooms to use from week to week – effectively making it a mobile lab.

To receive a fab lab grant, districts must provide matching funds equal to half of the award. As a result, the schools and the state this year will invest at least $750,000 in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) education in K-12 schools throughout Wisconsin.

In addition to Mosinee, the new grant recipients this year and their awards are:

  • Butternut School District – $22,000
  • Deerfield Community School District – $25,000
  • DeForest Area School District – $25,000
  • Muskego-Norway School District – $24,700
  • Racine Unified School District – $25,000
  • Tri County School District, Plainfield – $25,000

School districts that were repeat winners of grants this year and their awards (with year of previous award noted) are:

  • CESA 3 (Consortium) – Fennimore (2023) – $47,396
  • Fall River School District (2019) – $25,000
  • Hayward Community School District (2019 & 2023) – $25,000
  • Nekoosa School District (2021) – $25,000
  • School District of New Lisbon (2020) – $25,000
  • School District of Random Lake (2020) – $24,300
  • Croix Central School District (2016) – $25,000
  • Washington Island School District (2020 & 2021) – $25,000
  • Waunakee Community School District (2016, 2017 &2018) – $25,000
  • Weyauwega-Fremont School District (2023) – $25,000
  • Whitehall School District (Consortium) (2019) – $50,000

In addition to the grants, WEDC has developed a fab lab resource page for its website that provides districts with information on how to set up and equip a fab lab, how to implement best practices to ensure a successful fab lab and more. Content for the page was provided by the University of Wisconsin-Stout and Fox Valley Technical College.

For more information on the state’s fab labs, including resources for teachers, visit wedc.org/fablabs or follow #WIFabLab on Twitter.

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