STOCKTON — The San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) hosted an open house and ribbon cutting on March 7 to celebrate the new FabLab, a high-tech STEM education center and workshop focused on engineering that provides equipment and resources for all students in the region to prepare for their futures.
Short for “fabrication laboratory,” the FabLab is an educational maker space filled with tools and state-of-the-art tech designed to get students excited about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) through hands-on, integrated, standards-driven engineering projects.
The lab is at the county education officer complex off Arch Road and Highway 99 north of Stockton Metro Airport.
“Our goal is to provide the same level of STEM-education opportunities for children in San Joaquin County as children in the Silicon Valley,” San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools James Mousalimas said. “We want to get students excited about STEM when they’re young and to encourage them as they continue to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math. It is our responsibility to prepare our students for jobs that require a STEM education. That’s where the jobs are now, and that’s where the jobs will be in the future.”
In the FabLab, students can design projects using computer-assisted design software, then create those projects using laser cutters, milling machines, 3D printers, and other tools, both high- and low-tech. The FabLab also provides a playing field that hosts VEX Robotics competitions.
Educators and other community members joined the SJCOE for the FabLab open house to tour the facility and take part in hands-on activities. Students from Merrill F. West High demonstrated robots they built to compete in VEX Robotics competitions while students from Tracy High and Venture Academy Family of Schools demonstrated other technology, like zSpace, a three-dimensional, augmented-reality computer used to study everything from anatomy to engineering.
In addition to field trips and other uses available to students in the Central Valley, the FabLab provides a space for teachers to learn more about how to bring STEM into their classrooms. For more information, go to https://www.sjcoescience.org/sjcoe-fablab.html.