Mobile learning lab unveiled in Thomson Oct. 24

THOMSON — A new mobile science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and literacy lab was unveiled during a ribbon cutting ceremony Oct. 24.

A converted school bus, the custom-built lab will allow student-access to books that support STEM activities, according to a news release from the McDuffie County School District.

Both the interior and exterior feature audiovisual systems for showing videos. Bookshelves line one side of the bus and folding tables with space for internet-connected devices and STEM activities on the other.

This one-of-a-kind bus in the CSRA will be making stops for STEM and literacy activities during parent engagement programs at McDuffie County Schools as well as local community events.

A converted school bus acts as a mobile learning lab. Courtesy photo

Teachers will also be able to book the bus for visits to enhance their lessons. District officials are currently building partnerships with local pre-school providers so that visits to the mobile lab can expose younger children to STEM and literacy concepts before they enter the school system, according to the release.

Worley Construction converted the bus and custom built the interior to enhance learning. Owner Brian Worley began building these types of buses as a way to facilitate the growth of literacy in rural communities, the news release continued.

Access to books is a key factor in developing reading skills early on in a child’s life. McDuffie County’s mobile lab aims to help fill the gap for students who might not have books readily available.

“We hope this bus helps our students not only learn to read but learn to love to read. This is another opportunity for children to have access to books, and they are books that easily lead into the hands-on STEM activities,” said Lynn Cato, director of curriculum and instruction. “STEM is so important because it builds those reasoning and problem-solving skills that transcend all disciplines.”

Funding for the bus conversion came in the form of federal dollars aimed at promoting learning through acceleration.

The bus is also part of a larger STEM initiative throughout the district determined to increase the number of hands-on, engaging activities that help students grasp material in a more concrete manner. These include virtual reality headsets to allow for three-dimensional immersive field trips, drones to demonstrate flight physics and piloting, Anatomage tables to enhance health science and anatomy classes, robots to teach coding and computer science as well as tablets for a variety of classroom activities.

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