Fab Lab Teens Innovate COVID-19 Solution for Sarasota County Schools Reopening

From its successful COVID-19 Face Mask & Shield Project to recent blood drive with SunCoast Blood Centers, the Suncoast Science Center/Faulhaber Fab Lab (SSC) has dedicated itself to stepping up to support the community with innovative solutions during a time when COVID-19 uncertainties continue to grow.

Through brainstorm sessions with community leaders, healthcare experts, and student volunteers, the Student Community Innovation Program (SCIP) was born. SCIP provides high school and college students with an opportunity to give back to their community by innovating a solution to a local need. With the help of talented mentors and access to a state-of-the-art fabrication lab, students bring an idea from concept to creation and build hard and soft skills that will help them excel in future pursuits.

Student Community Innovation Program

During its pilot year, one SCIP team was determined to make a meaningful impact on the Sarasota community through education. Led by recent Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design graduate Mimi Faulhaber, the Education Team quickly sought partnership with Sarasota County Schools (SCS) to discover how they could aid in the imminent reopening of schools. Using direct feedback from administrators, the team developed the website-application “COVIDucation” to deliver accurate COVID-19 information to elementary school students through an engaging storybook format. In close collaboration with SCS, the team was able to tailor the content to help children understand the impact the virus has on their lives as well as become prepared for the increased health and safety measures in schools.

“What began as an opportunity of growth for our students has flourished into a resource that has the ability to help all students and families navigate this unprecedented time,” noted Ping Faulhaber, SSC Executive Director. “We welcome families locally, nationally and globally, to use COVIDucation as a learning tool and conversation-starter.”

Getting Ready for New Year

The Education team–comprised of SCS graduates Mimi Faulhaber, Alexander Gage, Christiana Guan, Michael Gutierrez, Won Namgoong, Alyssa Steinbaum and Claire Wang plus SCS students Naina Chauhan, Julia Chen, Alexiya Mikerina, Diego Morales and Kasumi Wade–worked remotely alongside local experts in software programming and design to develop the website over the last eight weeks. “Against all odds, I am amazed at how much we have been able to accomplish, and it’s been such a great experience to work with people who saw these challenges as an opportunity and not an obstacle,” stated SCIP member Naina Chauhan.

“We are so grateful for the desire of these young people to be helpful during this pandemic,” noted Dr. Laura Kingsley, assistant superintendent & chief academic officer of Sarasota County Schools. “Their brilliance and energy combined to create an innovative solution for teachers and parents of our younger students. I believe this web-app will be the go-to, engaging resource for our families and teachers to use with younger children. It’s heartwarming to watch these students take an interest in the wellbeing of others in our community.”

The COVIDucation website is available now HERE. If you want to help uplift the innovators of tomorrow and get involved at the Fab Lab, contact info@suncoastscience.org or 941-840-4394.

About the Suncoast Science Center/Faulhaber Fab Lab

The Suncoast Science Center/Faulhaber Fab Lab is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded with the mission to inspire and support tomorrow’s innovators through experiential learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. Through its fabrication lab and innovative programs, the Suncoast Science Center encourages people of all ages to explore ideas, build skills and confidence, and become lifelong learners. To learn more, visit the website or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Photos courtesy of Suncoast Science Center

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2020-08-27