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On the cutting edge

Seventh graders at Rock Hill Middle School got to see and experience the latest trends in technology on Friday, when the Ashland Community and Technical College Mobile Technology Lab visited the school.

The lab contains a 3-D printer, a laser cutter, 3-D pens and virtual reality goggles.

“This is to get kids interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math),” Kathy Gore, seventh grade science teacher at the school, said. “It’s kind of a way for them to see some of the stuff that’s out there right now that the kids maybe haven’t seen or used.”

Gore said the school has been trying to push STEM in recent years, because many jobs are heading in that direction.

The school now offers a BioMed class for seventh graders, an engineering class for eighth graders, and last year, started an algebra class for eighth graders for high school credit.

On Friday, as the students made their way through each tech lab station, they each received a small shark that was printed using a 3-D printer, got their names engraved on a pencil from the laser cutter, outlined small drawings using a 3-D pen and experienced riding on one of Cedar Point’s many roller coasters using the virtual reality goggles.

“In today’s society, you don’t have to learn the traditional way,” Karen Coburn, director of workforce solutions at ACTC, said. “We feel that this is an opportunity for kids to who might not get the opportunity at their own school, and we do it in a low cost way.”
Coburn said that ACTC has had the mobile tech lab since the end of July, and since then, has traveled to about 30 schools and other events reaching about 2,300 people total.

“We’ve been quite surprised with how responsive everyone has been with it,” Coburn said. “A lot of people are really interested in it, and we’ve been thrilled by the response.”

Chrisha Spears, workforce solutions specialist at ACTC, said that the mobile tech lab is very useful to schools, because it comes to them rather than the schools going somewhere for a field trip.

“A normal field trip, sometimes you can only take a certain amount of people,” she said. “But since we travel to the schools, everyone can enjoy it.”