Jonathan Alder STEM Counselor Emily Byers described how the 3D printer works and the types of projects that can use it. 3D printers are one of many tools in Think Big Space, the new Amazon web service in the region, alongside CNC routers and laser engravers.
(Kayleen Petrovia's "Journal-Tribune" photo)
Jonathan Alder STEM Counselor Emily Byers is at the center, showing community members how to use Osmo, a game that teaches kids the basics of coding. The picture on the left shows Jason Fatzinger of Amazon Web Services; Kerri Ferguson is the owner of Main Street Treasures, recently elected to Plain City Council and Linda Peters, and owns Main Street Treasures. Osmo is one of many tools in Jonathan Alder's new Amazon web service Think Big Space.
(Kayleen Petrovia's "Journal-Tribune" photo)
Jonathan Alder's educators are encouraging their students to think boldly with the help of Amazon.
The Jonathan Alder local school recently received a $100,000 donation from Amazon Web Services (AWS) to create a hands-on technology laboratory for its K-12 students and the entire community.
On Tuesday, teachers, parents, elected officials, and Amazon representatives attended the grand opening of the AWS Think Big Space in the region at Jonathan Alder High School. This is only the second such space in Ohio.
The person in charge Gary Chapman said that the space previously served as home and consumer science classrooms and science laboratories, and will serve as a "community incubator."
The room is full of equipment and technology that can help students turn their ideas into reality.
It includes a 3D printer that can be used to create models; vinyl printers and cutters, Cricut and Direct-to-Garment printers for making stickers, murals and clothing; CNC routers that will be used to build objects and for engraving and Laser engraving machine for cutting objects.
You can use zSpace to explore virtual and augmented reality, and you can use AVRover to create broadcasts.
Programs in this area will focus on coding; robotics; IoT (Internet of Things), which are objects embedded with sensors or software that can connect and share data; media; augmentation and artificial intelligence; cloud computing; technology and Amazon web services.
AWS Community Engagement Manager Wilberte Paul said that Think Big Space aims to cultivate students' innovative spirit and encourage them to participate in STEM and STEAM fields.
Assistant Superintendent Misty Swanger stated that Amazon representatives first contacted the area in July 2020, hoping to establish a Think Big Space in JA.
She said the company said it was looking for schools in central Ohio to cooperate with, but she was not sure why she chose Jonathan Alder or the criteria Amazon uses.
"It's almost like a cold call," Swanger said.
After months of discussion, Amazon submitted a proposal to JA on how to use donations in December 2020. In January, it was accepted.
The company donated $100,000 to the Jonathan Alder Community Support Foundation, which allocates funds to the school district.
Swanger said that from there, a team in the area worked with Amazon representatives to "share ideas" to determine how the Think Big Space would be formed.
Swanger said she visited Hilliard City School, which was the location of Ohio's first Think Big Space. At Otterbein University, there is a similar "maker space"; a school district in Virginia also has another Amazon space.
Although everyone provided inspiration, Swanger said "ours are a bit different" because of the target audience.
Hilliard's space is for middle school students, Otterbein's focus is college students, and Virginia Think Big Space is located in an elementary school.
However, Jonathan Alder's goal is to serve everyone from kindergarten children to adults.
For this reason, Swanger said that the devices in JA's Think Big Space are designed to allow users to gradually build skills.
For example, she said, the tools young students use to cut and build cardboard are pioneers of the 3D printers or laser engravers they will use in the future.
The space will be opened to students first and then finally to community members.
The position of STEM coordinator Emily Byers was created in response to Amazon's donation requirements. She said that Think Big Space will cultivate curiosity and allow children to explore ideas.
She said hands-on learning is essential to encourage students to explore the STEM field.
For students from kindergarten to eighth grade, she said that Think Big Space will be used to integrate Ohio's learning standards into their curriculum.
Byers said these technologies and tools will be used in new ways for students in grades 9 to 12 to meet the needs of vocational education and workforce development.
In the end, she said that she looked forward to giving students the opportunity to turn their imagination into reality.
"I am very happy that they can put their ideas into their hands," she said.
"When you see them in the space, they will be immersed in it," she said.
Swanger said that there is no timetable, but she expects Think Big Space will have "open STEM time" during which community members can use the space. She said that using this space is free, but they may have to pay for material costs, depending on what they create.
Although "nothing is guaranteed," Swanger said she hopes that Jonathan Alder's partnership with Amazon will be an ongoing relationship. She said Amazon has donated many times to several areas that already have Think Big Spaces.
"It doesn't mean getting it right once and for all," she said.
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