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Think Inside the Box:
4 Mobile STEM Lab Ideas
From STEM to Success
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is critical for the nation’s competitiveness, and it can help inspire students on a path to a successful career. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM employment will grow by 10.5% between 2020 and 2030. And with a median annual wage more than double that of non-STEM occupations, this is an excellent field to enter. What’s more, many jobs of the future will require at least some knowledge of key STEM concepts.
Engaging students with hands-on projects and learning activities is crucial, so many educators are looking into mobile STEM labs and other creative solutions for their classrooms. Technologies such as virtual reality headsets, 360-degree cameras, robotics kits, and 3D printers allow students to design, tinker, program, build, test, and troubleshoot as they put important STEM skills and concepts into practice.
These technologies can be expensive to buy for all classrooms. That’s why mobile STEM labs are catching on in a growing number of schools. Created using STEM carts, they can help deliver hands-on STEM education tools to more students in a cost-effective way.
What is a Mobile STEM Lab?
Mobile STEM labs are a place to collect and organize the equipment that’s used for STEM education. They’re built with STEM carts so they can be wheeled from classroom to classroom as needed. This lets K-12 leaders buy enough VR headsets, robotics kits, or other technologies for a single class and then share the equipment among multiple classes within a single building, grade level, or department. They’re a smart investment for schools of any budget size.
Some manufacturers offer specialized STEM carts for transporting technologies, but these carts tend to be expensive.
4 Mobile STEM Lab Ideas
At LocknCharge, we’d like to suggest a more budget-friendly solution: By thinking “inside the box,” educators can easily transform LocknCharge laptop carts into mobile STEM labs that can transport mobile computing devices and hands-on STEM technologies. The open design of our laptop carts allows educators to reconfigure the carts to transport many different kinds of technologies and be prepared for future changes to technology.
1. Robotics Cart
Imagine wheeling the Carrier Cart into your classroom that contains baskets of iPads and robots. Students break into groups each group has its own robot that students can program using the iPads from the cart’s baskets. Talk about a recipe for a fun, engaging STEM cart!
2. Virtual Reality Cart
This would include virtual reality headsets with mobile devices that fit inside the viewers. Using apps like Google Expeditions, Titans of Space, or Anatomyou, students are transported on immersive journeys to places like Antarctica, the International Space Station, the planets of our solar system, or the inside of the human body. Add a 360-degree camera, and students can use software like Unity or InstaVR to create their own immersive VR experiences.
3. Engineering Cart
With removable racks and baskets, the Joey Cart 40 or Carrier 30 Cart is a versatile and affordable option to build an engineering STEM cart – you’ll just need a small 3D printer and tablets or laptops. Load the tablets or computers with software for creating three-dimensional renderings, like Tinkercad or SketchUp. Students will not only learn how to use these programs, but will also see their designs come to life on the printer, sparking their creativity and interest.
4. Gaming Cart
Did you know that video games can help build STEM skills? Load a Carrier 40 Cart with gaming laptops, headsets, controllers, and accessories. Set them up with STEM video games like ChemCaper, Little Alchemy 2 or Cork the Volcano, depending on their age and skill level. Even the popular game Minecraft builds engineering and instruction-following skills. Plus, gaming carts aren’t just for STEM education. Gaming leagues and extracurricular school groups can use them, too.
Finding the Right STEM Cart
Building your own mobile STEM lab is usually more affordable than buying a pre-made option, but you still want to make sure you’re using a quality cart with the features you need, such as:
You don’t want your STEM devices running out of charge mid-activity. A cart that also keeps them charged is a must.
Measure your devices and carefully check the dimensions of your potential STEM cart. Many LocknCharge carts come in various sizes depending on your needs.
Removable racks and baskets allow carts to hold a variety of devices and adapt to future needs as devices change or new technology is added.
STEM technology is typically a large expense for schools. LocknCharge carts help keep devices secure with high-quality, stainless steel locks, and many have optional anchor kits that lock the whole cart to the floor.