The students gathered around the table Tuesday morning, watching as their technology teacher showed them how a trio of tiny robots called ozobots light up and follow lines drawn on a large sheet of paper. Then they took the markers and robots and made it happen for themselves.
It’s all part of Fonde Elementary School’s new K-2 Makerspace, an interactive, hands-on STEM lab that allows students in kindergarten through second grade to put the lessons they learn in the classroom into practice.
“The students are able to see what they’re learning in action,” Fonde Principal Joy Gould said. “And of course, that’s much more engaging for them; they like to see it actually happen after they’ve read about it or heard about it.
“We’ve been incorporating these lessons over the last few years in the classroom and the teachers have done really well with this. But now we have a place where they can go and do the STEM activities where they have the resources available.”
The lab was created with the help and support of the Mobile Area Education Foundation. Fonde’s technology support teacher, Hailey Carter, develops lesson plans for the schools’ teachers to use in the lab.
“We just really wanted to have a fun, engaging, collaborative space for our early elementary kids to come in and tinker and build structures and do all those STEM elements that they do in the classroom, but have it in more of a fun and exciting way,” Carter said. “They love it. They don’t want to leave.”
This week, each of the lab’s five stations focused on the themes of color and light, with prisms, color bending, shadow puppets, a light table and the ozobots, which provide an introduction to coding and robotics. Students were given a set amount of time at each station, so they all got to try their hand at each.
“This is fantastic,” said District 2 School Commissioner Don Stringfellow, who came out to see the lab for himself. “I can see how engaged they are and what they’re learning. I think every elementary school ought to have these classrooms.”