by Mark Lyons
Outfitting STEM labs with the right equipment is critical to the success of new labs within a school. Too many times, we’ve seen shiny new equipment in labs not being used. Teachers get frustrated that they need to learn how to use the equipment, and students miss out on gaining valuable skills by using it. As the CTE specialist at AET Labs, I developed a process for helping architects and schools decide on the best equipment for new STEM labs – equipment that teachers and students are excited to use.
Here is an overview of what we recommend looking for when choosing the right equipment. Find equipment that:
- Will have longevity within the school – Ensure the equipment selections are not centered around a specific teacher’s request. Instead, select equipment that will benefit the school’s vision for the long term.
- Comes with curriculum – Adding the latest 3D printer or CNC machine to a lab isn’t enough. Teachers benefit greatly from equipment that comes with supporting curriculum, like worksheets and project activities, so the technology is easy for them to integrate into their class work.
- Provides instructor training – Some equipment manufacturers offer training specifically for instructors to learn how to teach their students to use the technology. Some companies, like AET Labs, offer personalized professional development to help teachers determine the best applications for the equipment and their curriculum.
- Offers credentials to the students – Some equipment manufacturers have accredited programs that certify instructors to award their students with industry-recognized certifications.
As an example, Festo is a manufacturer that offers curriculum, training, and credentials. Festo Didactic is the academic division of Festo, an industry-leading manufacturer of automation technology. Schools use the equipment from Festo Didactic in pre-engineering and robotics and automation programs. Their equipment includes instructor guides, student manuals, assessments, and interactive labs in a cloud-based learning management system. They also offer industry-relevant certifications for students, accredited by the nationally-recognized organization, NC3. For local support, our team at AET Labs helps instructors apply the equipment to their curriculum through customized professional development.
We all want to see active, thriving STEM labs within schools where students are inspired and engaged in their learning. Choosing the right equipment is essential to that.
Mark Lyons is vice president of business development at AET Labs.