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Elementary students get real time lab experience at PWCS’ own engineering lab

Students from River Oaks Elementary School in Woodbridge were the first of many elementary students who will get to spend a day at Prince William County Schools’ engineering laboratory. What’s happening inside has school administrators, educators, community and business leaders, and, of course, students, engaged and excited beyond imagining, according to a news release from Prince William County Schools

“The visit was a huge success,” River Oaks Principal Aerica Williams was quoted as saying.  “We are thrilled that PWCS is able to provide this opportunity to students throughout Prince William County.”

On their recent trip, 20 fourth graders from River Oaks Elementary and Lindsey Speck, their teacher, spent the day testing their engineering design skills to solve real-world problems in an arena where complications are not failures, but opportunities to learn.

“The Tech Lab has helped my students think more critically and have a better open mind,” said Speck. “And, the students that they’re working with today, they don’t normally work with…so, it helps them come together and build more team-building.”

Full-day immersion at the lab gives teachers time to complete a lesson and gives students time to see their projects through to completion. Starting in the “World of Work Room,” students learn what engineers are, what they do, and how their inventions are used in everyday life. Time in the lab includes hands-on activities in coding, circuit building, and constructing something called robocrafts, designed and programmed by the students themselves.

In this hands-on arena, thinking about a problem opens doors to brainstorming and tinkering to find new ways to use science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics to solve it.

The TechLab at Cedar Point Elementary School in Bristow is an emerging idea brought home by PWCS Principal Mark Marinoble, whose own doctoral studies took him on a field trip to a similar lab at Virginia Tech. He was so enthused, he couldn’t resist sharing the experience. Thanks to that ingenuity, a partnership with Virginia Tech and the technology company Qualcomm, resulted in the lab, which is now open to elementary students from Prince William County Schools, and eventually beyond.

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