On Monday March 27, Delran district staff were invited after school to participate in two workshops in the FabLab to continue our celebration of NJ STEM Month activities. Both a mini grant from the New Jersey STEM Pathways Network (NJSPN) and a Lockheed Martin Community Grant funded the afternoon of making.
Participants showcased their school pride by designing Bear Flair in CorelDraw. The sessions began with Mr. Paul Maraldo and Mrs. Mary Jo Hutchinson leading presentations on CorelDraw basics, such as adding text, mirroring images, removing anchor points, converting to curves, and preparing designs to print on the vinyl cutters. Teachers either could utilize pre-made Delran designs or create their own in the software. STEMbassadors worked with staff in the CorelDraw, providing guidance, support, and ideas to help bring their designs to fruition. Once designs were finalized, they were shared via a folder to the vinyl cutting stations.
Mr. Shaun Deloche and Mrs. Erica DeMichele were in the lab assisting with equipment such as the two vinyl cutters and heat press. Our new Titan 3 vinyl cutter was busy for nearly four hours, as over 50 district administrators, teachers, and support staff members created custom Bear Wear to show off their school spirit. Once each teacher's design was processed from the vinyl cutters, they worked collaboratively at tables with STEMbassadors to remove the excess vinyl film in a process called weeding, where they used picks, tweezers, and X-acto knives to reveal their delicate design decals. After all excess vinyl was removed, the decals were placed on sweatshirts and sealed in the heat press. After a quick dry, staff had ready-to-wear custom Bear Flair!
The Titan 3 vinyl cutter was part of the Lockheed Martin Community Grant. Mrs. Hutchinson explained the grant included other resources such as laptops to serve more students in the lab, an additional desktop to run the Titan 3, and CorelDraw licenses for more students to learn the skills and gain competencies in 2-D design and fabrication. She added:
“One of the main goals of the Lab is to provide high school students with learning experiences that better equip them with the skills and competencies they will need and use daily in their lives and careers. Working with computer-aided design software, prototyping, reiterating, problem solving, and fabricating are all transferable skills to a wide range of potential STEM careers. Another aspect of DelranSTEM’s mission is STEM for all, which includes facilitating experiences in the lab for families, community members, and teachers. When teachers of all grade levels K-12 feel comfortable and have positive experiences in the lab, they are better equipped to understand, support, and encourage their students to pursue STEM pathways.”
Ten student STEMbassadors volunteered at the event, sharing the knowledge they've gained designing in the FabLab with their teachers. Our staff had many kind words for our students-turned teachers, aka the STEMbassadors, who made them feel comfortable learning new technology and creating in the FabLab.
DHS History teacher Jason Pope commented:
“Samantha Dix and Campbell Willard were extremely helpful assisting Melissa [Lynch] and I weeding the vinyl bears and pressing the vinyl to the material.”
DHS English teacher Laura Schreiner also complimented our STEMbassadors, noting:
“[The] ‘STEMbassadors’ were absolutely fabulous! I'm very happy with my sweatshirt, but the best part of the experience for me was learning from the STEMbassadors. They are efficient, capable, enthusiastic, and pleasant. They have great skills and were happy to help me - no matter how many times I had to ask them. I'll be back and look forward to learning even more!”
A few staff members in each session attended last year's Bear Flair workshop and also offered assistance to their colleagues. Schreiner added her department colleague Doneanne Soult, DHS Library Media Specialist, shared the knowledge she previously gained working with STEMbassadors and STEM staff in workshops:
"Thank you so much for your patience and your help with my sweatshirt! You were kind and generous with your time. I never could have finished it without you."
Consumables such as the vinyl in our school colors and the hooded sweatshirts were provided by the NJSPN mini grant, and the DEA provided onesies. Thank you to Lockheed Martin, the New Jersey STEM Pathways Network, the DEA, our DelranSTEM staff, and STEMbassadors for an educational afternoon in the FabLab. Check out our school spirit in the gallery below!