Hilldale hosts open houses to show off pHab labs

Hilldale High School student Minh Diep explains how a 3-D printer works. The school received new 3-D printers, steel engravers and vinyl cutters through a grant.

New fabrication labs at Hilldale Elementary and Hilldale High schools enable students to do more than create things.

"It introduces them to their future, to the world market in technology," said Stacy McFarland, Hilldale Elementary STEAM teacher. "It gives them an advantage to begin at an early age to understand the world we live them. It's making things, hands on."

The schools will show off their new classrooms, called pHab Labs, at open houses, 3 p.m. Tuesday.

"We just want to open up our lab to the community, see what we've got going on in here," said Nathan Yarbrough, high school STEAM teacher. 

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math.

Yarbrough said his school received eight new 3-D printers, two laser cutters and a computer numerical control machine, which can follow coded instruction to print in 3-D. The machines were installed about a month ago, he said. The classroom also has a new Jamboard, an interactive whiteboard Yarbrough described as a giant iPad.

"With all the manufacturing in Muskogee, this is going to be good hands-on experience for them," Yarbrough said. "They go in and make well above the average wage for Muskogee."

The elementary lab has similar equipment.

Technology for the elementary lab was funded mostly through a $65,000 grant from the Oklahoma Education Technology Trust, said Deborah Tennison, assistant Hilldale superintendent. Training is provided by the University of Oklahoma's K20 Center for Educational and Community Renewal.

A $90,000 grant from the City of Muskogee Foundation funded the high school lab, Tennison said.

The Cherokee Nation provided additional funding for both labs, she said. "It's been a real group effort."

The pHab Lab's unusual spelling honors the education furniture company Palmer Hamilton, which furnished the classrooms, Tennison said. 

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