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N. Idaho Students Help Build Portable Science/Engineering Lab

Otto Kitsinger/Idaho STEM EcosySTEM

This week, students in Coeur d’Alene are working on a summer construction project. They’re directed by Barbara Mueller from the non-profit organization Gizmo CDA, an organization that is all about teaching people by making things.“They got to use chop saws and band saws and drill presses and they’re going to use milling machines and C-and-C routers and laser cutters and all of that is developing skills while helping them develop confidence to be part of this project," Mueller said.

She and the students are converting a seven-foot-by-14-foot trailer into a mobile applied science lab.

“The girls are building out all kinds of units, shelving units and ways to be able to store all kinds of supplies and a canopy and table so that we can drive up any place we want, unfold the canopy, bring out supplies, and be able to do all kinds of hands-on projects with kids who would normally not be able to get to our facility," she said.

Mueller says their finished trailer will be one of a dozen built around Idaho this spring. Gizmo is one of several private partners helping with this project that’s overseen by the Idaho Out-of-School Network, directed by Anna Almerico.

“Really it’s a low-tech maker space, but with high-tech ambitions, just understanding engineering concepts through making launch rockets, stomp rockets or balloon-propelled launch activities, trubuchets, catapults,” she said.

Credit Otto Kitsinger/Idaho STEM EcosySTEM
The mobile labs will allow science educators to take applied science lessons to schools and rural communities.

Almerico says the goal is to teach students how to discover and experiment. Mueller says the trailer will be deployed wherever it’s requested, including to Coeur d’Alene’s Canfield Middle School, where it will be used to help with that school’s after-school STEM program.