Range Lake North School has a new addition to their school’s tech room. In January, the school received a new Dremel laser cutter as a new opportunities for students to learn about design and technology.
The new $8,000 cutter will allow students to engrave and cut designs in cardboard, wood, felt, acrylic, leather and several other materials with high precision.
“We’re tying to focus our curriculum in STEAM with science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics,” said Darryl Mitchener, assistant principal and teacher at Range Lake North. “With this new cutter they can use their artistic and mathematics skills to design and create.”
The idea behind the tech room is to create a “makeful” space where students can have hands on practice with this technology and come away with something they have created while learning.
“The response is always positive in here,” said Mitchener. “Students are always engaged and that means they’re learning.”
Staff at Range Lake says it’s important to staff that what is featured in the tech room is current and students are getting the best opportunities.
“We’re always trying to add to the room,” said Yasemin Heyck, principal at Range Lake North. “From sand blasters, to drones to the new silk screen set up, it seems like there’s always something new here.”
Mitchener recently came back from a technology conference in Orlando, Fla., which spoke to incorporating technology into learning.
“Everything they talked about, in terms of ‘makeful’ spaces we have here,” he said. “We’re on par with what schools have in the states or even any school here in Canada.”
The new cutter has been put to use since January, but Mitchener admits he’s still learning more complicated applications like cutting shapes, which requires a different set of open-source computer programs.
“We’ve done a few small projects with the students so far, like engraving coasters,” said Mitchener. “Since it’s so new, we’re trying to find ways to incorporate using it throughout the school, even outside of teaching the tech classes.”
Since the introduction of the laser cutting equipment, many staff members are also coming up with ideas of their own.
“One of our math teachers has used it to make a fractions-to-decimals math game for students, one of our ILC teachers who teaches sowing and crafts can use it to cut felt,” said Mitchener. “One of the younger teaches has even brought the idea to cut wood block letters at a tenth of the price of simply buying them.”
He also expressed an interest in using the printer to cut custom door plaques, citing the new piece of equipment has many practical applications.
Overall Mitchener is hoping the new cutter will be incorporated into various other projects within the school’s tech room.
“Now with our new silk screen and the cutter’s ability to cut and engrave denim and leather, it’s entirely possibly we could have students creating or customizing clothing,” he said.
The Range Lake North tech room is used by all students, kindergarten to grade eight, who have dedicated time for classes there. The tech classroom also has a 3D printer, a Lego wall, a green screen, a computer lab, a sand blaster, robotics, drones and also the recent addition of a silk screen.