Somerset Christian School unveiled a brand new technology lab on Jan. 11 — a first-of-its-kind in Kentucky lab that will help teach students integrated skills in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.
The SmartLab, as it is called, has 12 stations with a two-person setup at each station so that students can learn how to complete projects from the ground up, explained SmartLab Facilitator Megan Conner.
“My job is to help guide them through the process, but I don’t tell them what to do,” Conner explained.
The lab projects can include learning how to graphically design a logo from the very beginning, how to build things like a robot or a hydrogen car, or be introduced to circuitry by creating a snap circuitry set.
Conner said the goal was to help teach students some of the “lost arts” that modern day technology has dulled.
“As all these kids are growing up with technology, they’re so used to being able to say ‘Hey Siri, how do you do this?’ … We’re losing our ability to think creatively, and to be innovative, and to problem solve, and have perseverance.”
Conner said the lab was purchased from Creative Learning Systems, and both she and Creative Learning Systems’ Mike Mitchell said it was the first lab installed in the state of Kentucky.
Not only that, SCS student David Crubaugh pointed out that, from what he had been told, the next closest lab was in Murphy, North Carolina.
He and fellow student Manuel Catalan built a RoboMaster robot that uses some of the same technology that military vehicles use. It can move side-to-side, rotate 360-degrees, track individuals and be used to listen to conversations.
The two named it Legolas, because they said the antenna look kind of like elven ears and it can shoot projectiles, similar to the famous Lord of the Rings archer of the same name, although in the robot’s case it’s harmless pellets.
They said it took them about five days to build the bot, with Crubaugh saying they chose the project “because it looked cool.”
Both said they are interested in robotics and computers, with Catalan saying he wants to go into a related course of study when he goes to college — either software engineering or computer engineering.
Ron Gleaves, SCS’s principal, said one of the goals of the school is to be able to partner with as many other entities — local high schools and colleges — as possible. This lab is another way they can do that, he said.
“This opens up so many avenues for us as a school,” Gleaves said, adding that having a lab such as this in a rural community was a blessing from God.
Gleaves thanked those who have supported the school throughout the years, allowing it to grow as it has.
He also credited former principal John Hale and pastor Harold Brown for their vision in building the school into what it is.
Brown was on hand to oversee the ribbon cutting ceremony for the lab, telling the gathered crowd, “I’m grateful of not just what you see, but what this helps up produce in their (the students’) minds, in the lives of the children. … I think five years from now, we’ll see a difference in the education of our kids and the direction of our kids, because they’ve had the opportunity to do this.”