I have a proposal. Pull out your cocktail napkins for a moment and follow along.
The local school district might be losing a big chunk of funding due to changes in Ohio policy, and might be looking for ways to maintain their cutting edge education.
The local schools are among the top ranked in the state and especially proud of their science program (and academics in general).
A large portion of people in the community would gladly tell you that they moved to the area for the schools.
The individual schools only do a small amount of fundraising to cover their basic expenses including things like assemblies, the annual family picnic, etc.
Are you still with me?
The whole community, including the elementary schools, comes together for a very large and successful fundraiser that makes over $30K. (The money goes to $1000 scholarships to graduating seniors).
There is a very active, and amazing group of people in the PTA who volunteer a lot of time and money (and care a trememdous amount about education).
There are more amazing people in the community who might just volunteer more time and money if there was a project that sparked their interest – particularly one that would further their child’s education in a concrete way.
There are even more engineering and manufacturing firms in the community who might rally around a concrete education initiative focused on science and engineering.
Still have that cocktail napkin handy?
MIT had specifications for a FAB Lab to allow students to fabricate almost anything they could design on a computer – everything from ultra thin computers to furniture to toys to whatever.
The basic equipment for such a lab cost $60K (okay, plus a little more to make the space ready somewhere in the community).
Training and technical support exists through MIT and also the FAB Lab network of users throughout the world.
Two such labs already exist successfully in the Cleveland area and might even be open for a tour if someone were to ask.
The PTA and the school system and some local businesses were to work together to establish such a lab in the school system.
High school students could be using high tech equipment to create, well, almost anything. Maybe they could even create science experiments for the elementary schools to use for education? Or, maybe they could do some research for those local businesses? Maybe.
My cocktail napkin says that it is worth taking a closer look.
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