LAB: Introduction to Virtual Computer Lab
Description: This lab teaches basic computer skills, in a modern, environmentally-respectful lab. Word processing, spreadsheets, graphics, and library reference are taught -- even if the site has no access to the internet.
Goal: Students learn the life-long competency to confidently create on a computer:
basic reports as well as fancy documents,
charts and tables, and calculations therein,
graphs and drawings.
search for info relating to school papers, technical questions, history, curiosity, and more.
Lab Equipment: STEMpower's Virtual Computer Lab provides ~30 workstations (each with keyboard, mouse, display monitor), connected through a "thin client" and network switch to a single powerful server computer running a Virtual Machine operating system. That configuration saves ~65% electric power, generates ~65% less waste heat, simplifies software updates and maintenance, prevents computer viruses, and lets the teacher track the progress of every student. If the internet is not available, the server will search its own extensive databank.
LAB: Introduction to Electronics Lab
Description: This lab surveys the field of electronics, by method of students applying the learned theory with actual electronic device components connected together on re-usable teaching platforms. The electronic device components range from simple resistors to programmable Arduino microcontrollers.
Goal: Students deeply learn practical electronic theory through hands-on experience of assembling their increasingly-sophisticated circuits. Students learn to design and implement their own circuit designs to help solve community problems. As a side benefit, students will naturally experience circuitry failures, and from failure they learn how to improve their circuit implementations.
Lab Equipment: Students utilize hand tools, e.g. wire cutters, screwdrivers, and pliers. They measure with instruments, e.g. multi-meters and oscilloscopes. They utilize electronic components, e.g. resistors, capacitors, transistors, integrated circuits, programmable microcontrollers, sensors, relays, servos, and motors. The students assemble those electronic components on re-usable teaching tools known as "solder-less breadboards" and "powered lab-platform trainers". In addition, they also learn how to solder components together, for better reliability.
LAB: Project-oriented Electronics Lab
Description: This lab lets students design and build their own circuits, in projects designed to solve community problems. If the student has not yet identified a workable problem, the mentor will help the student select a project. In any case, the student designs and builds a working model. The mentor is available for guidance, as needed.
Goal: Students endeavor to convert a project idea into a working model. Some working models can immediately solve a real community problem, whereas other working models serve as discussion starters for future projects. Even unsuccessful (or under-powered) completed models can serve as useful learning experiences.
Lab Equipment: Students access the STEM Center lab equipment, for which they have already had hands-on experience.
Pre-requisite: Introduction to Electronics Lab
LAB: Introduction to 3D Printing
Description: This lab teaches a good understanding of how to create physical objects, by using a machine such as a filament-based 3D printer. The student learns the fundamentals of the 3D printer, then learns the software used to draw a 3D design, then stores that design as a universal 3D STL format, then into a universal format called standard G-code, which is a universally-accepted industrial format understood by any 3D printer. To 3D print the object, the student then chooses: a direct data path from the design computer to the 3D printer, or an indirect offline path from the design computer to an intermidiary storage (an external memory drive) to the 3D printer.
Goal: Students can solve community problems by designing specific object parts, then manufacture those parts on a 3D printer. Students also learn how to rectify design faults; taking lessons from design faults, they iteratively improve their 3D designs.
Lab Equipment: 3D printing machine, various thermoplastic filament types, and desktop design computer.
LAB: Introduction to PCB Manufacturing *
Description: This optional lab teaches students how to create a custom Printed Circuit Board (PCB) for their electronic projects. Unlike their electronic projects built atop a reusable platform called a "breadboard", students create a custom PCB, which is a major step towards commercializing the electronic portion of their product. During that process, students advance their fundamental knowledge of electronic component theory by first drawing circuit schematics on a computer, followed by laying out the PCB footprint layout, while considering layer sets and design rule checks (DRC) and cross-probing. The theoretical circuit performance can then be simulated. If that performance is acceptable, The PCB design can then be confidently outputted as Gerber files and NC drill files, both of which are fed into a specialized CNC printer machine that manufactures the PCB.
Goal: Students learn how to produce their own printed circuit boards (PCB). Their prior basic knowledge of circuit design and breadboard assembly is upgraded into a reliable professional electronic creation, intended for mass production, to serve the industrial and consumer markets.
Lab Equipment: Students use a desktop printed circuit board (PCB) maker machine (Voltera V-one), along with public domain software, circuit board blanks, conductive inks, drill bits, and built-in reflow soldering station.
Pre-requisite: Project-oriented Electronics Lab
LAB: Introduction to Mechanics *
Description: This optional lab teaches basic mechanics (mass, motion, forces, energy) through the techniques of demonstration, practical hands-on application, assisted project work. Topics include measurement, motion, pressure, heat, simple machines, energy generation.
Goal: This course provides a strong basis for understanding the concepts of mass, force, types of energy, simple machines, renewable energy sources, and many more underpinnings of the natural world around us. Through experiments and activities, students learn the skills of analytical reasoning and calculative deduction. An enriched learning environment that engages student project work will inspire students to pursue promising careers in science and engineering.
Lab equipment: To measure mass, distance, motion, acceleration, collision, force, energy, heat, and the effect of gravity on projectile motion, the students use instruments, e.g., stop watches, spring balances, digital and analog Varnier calipers, thermometers, linear air track (with photo gates), and the classic "monkey and hunter" kit. The students also learn from hands-on simple machines such as pulleys, levers, screws, wheels, and axles. The students verfiy key mechanical priciples, e.g., Hooke's law, Newton’s law, Archimedes principle, etc. Educational kits help the student to learn about renewable energy sources, e.g., light, wind, and water.
LAB: Introduction to Optics *
Description: This optional lab teaches basic optics principles through hands-on optical devices and measurements. The curricula include important fundamental concepts:
Lightwave interaction (e.g., reflection, diffraction, refraction, interference).
Light beam propagation & image formation in mirror and lenses.
The relationship between light waves and sound waves.
Measuring the speed of sound.
The principles behind motion pictures.
Demonstrating how the human eye focuses on incoming light.
Demonstrating data transmission over a fiber optic cable.
Real-world applications are stressed, e.g., identifying the types of mirrors and lenses, as well as constructing solar ovens, solar panels, periscopes, pinhole cameras.
Goal: Theory mixed with practical measurement activity will result in an enriched and challenging learning environment. By engaging in project work, the student begins to observe the world in a quantitative way. Students may pursue technical careers that involve human sight, machine vision, spectroscopy, or other optical specialties. In any case, the student will be advanced by their learning & practicing of the universal analytical thought-process, their calculative skill-building through experiments, their keen observations, and their recording of natural phenomena.
Lab Equipment: Students use basic optical components, e.g. lenses, mirrors, prisms, light sources, laser pens, discarded corrective eyeglasses, often held stable with an optical bench-top table kit. Illustrative devices are constructed, e.g., perioscopes, telescopes, and kaleidoscopes. During lab setups, tools may be used, e.g. glass mirror cutters. Electronic instruments add to the depth of learning, e.g., digital microscopes and oscilloscopes.
LAB: Introduction to Value-added Engineering *
Description: This optional hands-on lab teaches how natural resources can be turned into the products we use every day. Starting from raw inputs (e.g., plant seeds and stalks), students make real products (e.g. soap, paper, and biodiesel fuel). Lab activities include:
constructing miniature factories.
operating those factories.
collecting operational data.
calculating the financial benefits (if any) of local value-added processing versus importing finished goods.
A partnership with Case University CWRU
Goal: Students connect molecular structure with product function, while processes are evaluated economically. Students gain deep understanding of STEM, by weaving chemistry science with engineering, economics, manufacturing, environmental, cultural, and safety issues.
Lab Equipment: We have miniaturized and greatly reduced the cost of chemical engineering facilities, by using a custom-assembled kit of small pumps, kitchen stainless steel reactors, hand mixers, silicone molds, and chemical separation units. The kit uses low-voltage electrical power distribution where practical. Safety is further assured through the use of home kitchen electrical appliances and careful selection of materials of low toxicity and flammability.
LAB: Basic Sciences *
Description: This optional lab provides the STEM Center with hands-on experience of all three traditional high-school science labs (i.e., Biology, Chemistry, and Physics). The siting of the Basic Sciences Lab inside a STEM Center encourages the sharing of high school lab equipment among all students in a city, as well as long-lasting excellence in teaching and maintenance, especially in poor under-equipped municipalities. Though the government Science requirements are thus fulfilled by the STEM Center, our other STEM labs teach engineering, product design, manufacturing, and entrepreneurship -- all job-creating subject areas rarely taught in traditional municipal high schools.
Goal: Installed in a STEM Center, this Basic Sciences Lab can benefit all nearby high school's needs, addressing severe shortfalls in government-sponsored science education, plus that shared Lab will be permanently and sustainably maintained.
Lab Equipment: Typical lab equipment that follows the guidelines expected by various federal-level Ministry of Education in Africa, for high-school Biology, Chemistry, and Physics class labs.
Pre-requisite: High school math skills.
LAB: Advanced Biology *
Description: This optional lab is a “learn by doing” approach to understanding a wide array of biology concepts. Students learn the proper ways to use monocular and binocular microscopes, the structure of plant & animal cells, the cell respiration process, protein separation, water purification systems, multiple life forms, the microbes in the environment & food, antimicrobials, and health & hygiene. The lab work is both biological and biochemical, and it combines practical-useful & research-oriented modalities.
Goal: Students will gain mastery of biology subject matter. In addition, they will gain the skills of observation, measurement data-taking, interpretive drawing, observationally-proven scientific reasoning ability, dissection, and safe use of scientific equipment. More generally, students will better understand the nature of science as a human endeavor that seeks to understand the material world, and that its theories changed throughout history due to new evidence.
Lab Equipment: The equipment to do a wide range of biology experiments include: a swing-rotor centrifuge, a cyclone distiller, an autoclave, an incubator, a lab oven, a refrigerator, a vortex mixer, a stirrer mixer, Bunsen burners, an anaerobic jar, water purifier, and a water bath. Supplies include: glass agar plates, glass culture tubes, pipettes, syringes, and flaming loops. Classroom models of human biology help guide the medical side of biology.
Pre-requisite: Interest in science subjects, and engagement in science clubs.
Note: Labs named with an asterisk ("*") are available at selected STEM Centers.