Tag Archives: STEAM

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Case Study : Lennox Public Schools

lennox-header

Looking to prepare students for STEAM careers, a Los Angeles school district is using a laser machine to create hands-on experiences and foster real-world problem-solving skills.

From Abstract to Understanding

When a seventh-grade girl uses a laser to build a full-size piece of furniture, science suddenly doesn’t seem quite so abstract to her. And when sixth graders use a laser to engrave school award plaques, geometry starts to become relevant—even fun. That’s exactly the point behind a new hands-on engineering initiative at Lennox Public Schools, a Los Angeles-area district that uses an AP Lazer Machine, 3D printers, and other tools to provide students with the real-world experience of STEAM in action. “Lennox understands that education needs to be practical versus academic,” said David Strickler, president of AP Lazer, which provided Lennox with its SN4024 laser machine. “Math and science are very academic, and you have to find different ways to show how they can be applied in the real world.”

students using laser

“Lennox understands that education needs to be practical versus academic,” said David Strickler, president of AP Lazer, which provided Lennox with its SN4024 laser machine. “Math and science are very academic, and you have to find different ways to show how they can be applied in the real world.”

New Ways to Teach STEAM

Finding new ways to teach STEAM subjects is particularly important at Lennox, a low-income district (96 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches) surrounded by aerospace giants such as SpaceX and Northrop Grumman. “We’re trying to give students the best possible path to success, and STEAM programs seem key to that,” said Alejandro Hernandez, an engineer at Lennox. “Seeing the kinds of jobs that are available here, it’s pretty clear we need to prepare our students to go into those fields.”

laser cut settlers of catan game
To accomplish this goal, Lennox has created a school of engineering inside its middle school. The new school, which launched last August, involves roughly a third of students in Grades 6 and 7, with plans to expand to Grade 8 next year. The school is staffed by four science teachers, four math teachers, and four social studies teachers. “Students cover the normal curriculum, but with a greater emphasis on project-based learning,” said Hernandez. “The engineering lab itself is structured as an elective that is paired with the science classes. It’s like a lab and a lecture in a college-level class.”

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Project-Based Learning Approach

The concept of project-based learning lies at the heart of the school’s approach. To prepare themselves for this style of teaching, faculty attended training at the Buck Institute for Education, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the use of PBL in K-12 schools. AP Lazer provided on-site training on the use of the laser machine.

project based learning
“Every customer needs training on how to run the machine, whether at basic or advanced levels, and across different applications,” said Strickler. “We focus mainly on video training—segments of 10-15 minutes—because it’s the easiest way to communicate technical topics.” 24/7 technical phone support, an online learning portal, and a three-year warranty also come with the machine.

Developing a Curriculum

Curriculum development for the laser machine is still in its early days, but Lennox plans to build its lessons around the engineering design process, analogous to the scientific method. “Our goal is for students to be able to identify real problems in their lives or in the community and use tools like the laser machine to solve those problems,” said Hernandez. “The laser machine and the 3D printers aren’t goals in themselves, but tools for other things. We’re really trying to teach students to solve problems for themselves.”

laser cut deer
In the first part of the curriculum, students will learn the workflow needed to design simple two-dimensional products, such as engraved awards for the local science fair, using open-source software known as Inkscape. In the next step, students will transition to 3D CAD design. Lennox students already used Autodesk Inventor software in a 3D printing project earlier in the year. In this phase, they will apply what they learned to the laser machine.

“There’s a good degree of familiarity with Autodesk Inventor,” said Hernandez. “But I anticipate that it’ll take one to two weeks to uncover the differences between designing for a 3D printer and designing for a laser machine.”

Simple CAD Projects

For students without prior experience with 3D CAD, Strickler encourages schools to have them practice on existing models first. “The easiest thing to do with CAD is to import an existing 3D model and manipulate it,” he said, referring to free designs that are often available for download on vendor sites. “A student’s first project in CAD should be playing around with an existing model, resizing it, and then rendering it in physical form.”

laser cut 3d cubes
In making the transition from designing for 3D printers to laser machines, Lennox students must first learn how to create the joints needed to assemble flat pieces into three-dimensional objects. “We’re going to have students design some kind of container—perhaps a box where they can store their school supplies,” said Hernandez. “Once those skills are acquired, we’re going to open it up a little bit more.”

Setting Goals

The year-end goal is to have each student use the laser to make a full-size piece of furniture, such as a chair or table. First, students will prototype their designs by using the laser to cut cardboard sheets. Once the design is finalized, they will cut the full-size pieces from plywood sheets for assembly into the finished product. “We hope that students will be able to take their furniture home, or maybe we can even use their pieces in the school,” said Hernandez. “Most students are extremely excited about it.”

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Why is AP Lazer Better Than a 3D Printer for STEAM?

Like a 3D Printer, But Better

“The AP Lazer has the same basic science and engineering principals as a 3D printer. It features computer controlled three-axis motion, just like a 3D printer,” David Strickler, the president of AP Lazer, explained. “But it boasts more benefits that educators will find to be an advantage.”

At the recent Future of Educational Technology Conference (FETC) held at the Orlando Orange County Convention Center in January, educators immediately recognized that AP Lazer has the high potential to strengthen students’ education in the areas of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). Additionally, it can assist schools with cost saving and revenue generation.

“The cutting and engraving speed of the laser is much faster than that of a 3D printer, up to 500x,” Strickler explains. Cutting a simple 3D letter with the AP Lazer takes seconds, a 3D printer takes hours to produce the same object. “This feature makes it possible for an entire class to complete their small projects within one class period. This just can not be done with one 3D printer.”

With the patented two-part architecture, AP Lazer can also complete much larger projects than you could ever dream of with a 3D printer. This means that a large 3D object constructed by AP Lazer’s 2D cutting is impossible for a school scale 3D printer to complete.

Laser Machine for Education EbookLearn what an AP Lazer can do for your classroom in this free, informative guide. Share it with your colleagues!

So Many Applications, So Little Time

Educators are also excited by the endless applications. AP Lazer provides students the unique ability to learn STEAM through their interests. Theater students can use the laser to create sets, props, and costumes; athletes can engrave things like baseball bats, gloves, shoes and sports balls; artistic students can work on their design skills while producing art with the laser; the musically inclined can engrave inspirational quotes onto music instruments. The wide range of applications will attract students to learn the physics of CO2 lasers, three-axis motion and improve their ability to use computer software. The best part? “It’s easy enough for a 10-year-old to learn and use,” Strickler adds.

Interested in Learning More?

Call Today: 800-585-8617

An AP Lazer machine can save schools money and generate revenue. The filament for 3D printers can be expensive. In comparison, AP Lazer’s laser tube lasts ten thousand hours. Schools can produce their trophies, signage, wall of fame displays and more – a huge cost saver.  Revenue can be generated by charging fees for students to engrave their personal iPads, smartphones, or personalized gifts.

laser engraver for bricks

Fundraising is Fun with AP Lazer

“My daughter raised $250 for Christmas gifts for homeless kids by selling 125 laser cut bracelets. It only took me five minutes to design, the AP Lazer did the rest in 10 minutes.” Tong Li, the inventor of the AP Lazer, said. A school could raise enough money for a playground by engraving donation clay bricks. In addition, they could raise money for their theater program by making or engraving and selling show related paraphernalia.

One FETC attendee commented, “yes, the possibilities are endless.”

laser engraver for fab lab

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laser steam tool

Put the “S” in STEAM with a Laser Engraving Machine

laser steam toolGetting students excited about Science has proven to be a battle for primary, secondary and even post-secondary education teachers and administrators. Because of this, STEAM education is rising in popularity; some even say the concept is vital to our future, and the future of our children. But how do we recruit the children of today into the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics?

The complexity of this challenge is immense. It is hard enough to get kids attention for even 5 seconds let alone get their attention for enough time to discuss academically complex subjects in the areas of STEAM.

excited students STEAM concept

One way to get kids attention is to say the word “laser.” Yes, that is right! Just say the word “laser” and you will not only get kids’ attentions but keep it.

Lasers: The Ultimate STEAM Machine

This article series will cover each STEAM subject and relate how the laser cutting and engraving machine can help educators excite students when teaching complex subjects. Naturally, we’re starting with Science.

laser tube
What science exists in the laser machine?

Physics

The laser beam is light physics generated in a controlled tube, a key component of the laser machine. Students can learn the laser beam is generated by exciting a gas (CO2) that is contained in the tube with a power supply. The beam is then bounced back and forth at light speed to concentrate the beam and then allows a portion of the beam to escape the end of the tube.

Electricity

Another important part of the laser machine is electricity. The power supply can be presented in a learning diagram of how the energy from regional power plants transmit power via power lines to your house with transformers that step down the voltage to 110 volts. The AP Lazer machine converts this energy to a precise amount to excite the laser tube.

Mirrors

What is used to bounce the laser beam from the back of the machine angularly to the front nozzle and down to the work product? Mirrors. This is an interesting discussion of how a simple mirror can reflect a powerful laser beam. (Just like the shield of Captain America!)

Refraction and Light Science

A focusing lens is situated in the nozzle just above the material to focus the intensity of the laser beam to a concentrated point. The lens in a laser cutting machine is a convex mirror. A diagram easily shows how individual light photon beams that are parallel can be concentrated to a point based on the curvature of the lens.

Material Science

What happens to a piece of wood, glass, plastic or even granite when a laser beam hits it? Because each material reacts differently to the laser beam, engraving and cutting different materials is an exciting educational exercise in material science. Why does wood vaporize? That’s a fun question to answer when you are testing with a laser machine!

Interested in Learning More?

Call Today: 800-585-8617

 

There are much more advanced subjects that can be discussed in the realm of Science when considering a laser cutting and engraving machine for your classroom. If you are a secondary or post-secondary teacher interested in integrating a laser machine for STEAM education, we’d love to assist in creating a comprehensive science curriculum in partnership with you.

The STEAM initiative is at the heart of AP Lazer’s commitment and involvement in the education industry; we want the children of today to be excited about what the future of tomorrow holds.

Want to get your students excited about Science? Give us a call at 800-585-8617 or shoot us an email.

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What is STEAM?

AP16_BLOG_STEAM_banner

Amongst parents’ Common Core Facebook rants are ever-climbing college tuition rates and presidential candidate platforms on student loan reform. When it comes to education today, there’s only one topic that makes educators, students, and administrators light up: STEAM.

What is STEAM?

Not to be confused with the water vapor variety, STEAM is a newly defined approach to teaching and the learning process. In making connections across Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics, the STEAM model presents a hands-on approach to problem solving, collaboration, critical thinking, and experimentation.

Although the definition is new, the approach is not. Take this example from STEAM advocate Meghan Reilly Michaud in her 2014 article, “STEAM: Adding art to STEM education”, for District Administration.

“In mathematics, for example, students learn the geometric transformation of dilation. In an introductory visual arts course, students learn perspective. In science, students study the effect of light on pupil response in the eye. And in a history class, the way Renaissance artists viewed the world is examined.

It may not be obvious, but all these topics relate to a main idea of an item changing scale with proportion to the original dimensions, and the effect this idea has on different facets of our world. In establishing a connection between these ideas, the arts not only educate, but also engage students in their learning. Even without explicitly designing new curriculum, many teachers already use STEAM principles in their teaching.

Interested in Learning More?

Call Today: 800-585-8617

Why does STEAM matter?

While Common Core continues to be highly debated among parents, teachers, and politicians alike, messages from the White House to Sesame Street indicate that STEAM is here to stick around for the future of American education. And everyone seems to be on board.

The National Science Foundation is funding STEAM programs and workshops, the National Endowment for the Arts is “pushing for Artscience initiatives — intersecting art, science and technology”, and the benefits are already documented within K-12 education, amongst students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and at the college level.

In an article for Edutopia, John Maeda, the President of the Rhode Island School of Design – the school at the front of the fight to keep the A in STEAM – had this to say about STEAM’s future on a global scale.

With global competition rising, America is at a critical juncture in defining its economic future. I believe that art and design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century in the same way that science and technology did in the last century, and the STEAM movement is an opportunity for America to sustain its role as innovator of the world.

What do laser machines have to do with STEAM?

An essential part of how innovation arises from STEAM-based projects is the process of “making”. Making is simply hands-on creation – building a scale model or prototype, for instance – and much of it happens in “makerspaces” or “Fab Labs” (short for fabrication). Makerspaces are today’s new technology workshops guided by STEAM principles. In nearly every makerspace, you’re bound to find at least a 3D printer and vinyl cutter, maybe some Arduino or Little Bits kits, and – if you’re lucky – the ultimate STEAM tool: a laser machine.

AP16_BLOG_STEAM_laserDetail

With the ability to cut or engrave nearly any material, laser machines are truly the greatest STEAM tool on the market. But don’t take just our word for it. In an article for MakeZine.com, California high school math teacher and “Maker Educator” Casey Shea wrote, “If money were no object, the laser cutter would be my No. 1 tool, as it is perhaps the most versatile tool that I have ever used.”

In an article from 2009, by Mike Dean for SouthEast Education Network, laser machines got rave reviews from both administrators and students. Now you know it has to be good if both teenagers and their authority figures can agree on it.

Dark Steel Robotics, a student robotics team at the Academy of Engineering and Design Technology, found their laser machine to be crucial for their work – using it to create prototypes, cut out “numerous complex components”, and add logos to their robots.

Club president Bryan Uber told Dean, “We use the system for a variety of applications — the machine is necessary for so many of the projects we do.” Regarding placing first in the Boston University Design Challenge, Uber said, “The laser engraver was an invaluable tool during this project.”

students with laser machine

Administrators from the John D. Rockefeller IV Career Center in Hancock County, West Virginia also had glowing remarks about their laser machine. Instructor of building construction Steve Shannon told Dean the following.

The students are all very eager to learn to use the laser. Not only are they intrigued by how it works, but they also realize the many opportunities that a laser machine opens for them out in the world. Some of them see it and immediately think of how to start a small business using it, while some see it as a useful tool for existing enterprises.”

George Danford, director of the Career Center, told Dean:

“The number of things we could find to use this machine for are countless!

There isn’t a program offered today which hasn’t been changed with the incorporation of technology. This is why we selected a laser engraving system, and it has definitely improved our curriculum.”

Alright, I’m convinced. How can I get a laser machine?

Whether you’re looking to add a laser machine to your school or want to start a community makerspace, the first step of purchasing a laser machine is choosing the right one. We offer five models at AP Lazer, which you can easily compare using this handy matrix.

While the upfront costs of purchasing a laser machine can be difficult to navigate on a school budget, know that with this technology, you get what you pay for, and AP Lazer offers the best technology on the market.

Take for instance young entrepreneur Nurul Syazninabila Mohd Ghazali (aka Nabila). According to Cuts Studio: Laser cutting made cool by Lydia Koh, when Nabila first started her laser cutting and woodworking business, she went with a cheaper machine. It ended up breaking. In six months. Don’t make the same mistake as Nabila and invest in an AP Lazer machine from the start.

With STEAM momentum only continuing to build, some teachers are finding success in grant writing to fund their Fab Labs. And if that doesn’t work, take a page from Shea’s book and show your school how much money they could save by having a laser machine. From no longer needing to outsource campus signage, to easily customizing whiteboards for specific lessons, your school will only find more and more ways for your AP Lazer machine to save money.

Why choose an AP Lazer machine?

As a result of revolutionary engineering by founder Tong Li, AP Lazer machines offer exceptional performance, stability, and efficiency that you won’t find elsewhere. Our technology lasts longer and cuts two times faster than competitors. Our unprecedented open architecture design allows you to engrave items of any size. Look here to see what other features make the AP Lazer difference.

Not only are our machines outstanding, but we also offer the best in customer service. Between on-site training, video tutorials, AP Lazer University, and 24/7 phone tech support, we’ll answer all questions and solve any problems.


education discount for laser machineLaser engraving business starter package

Oh, and did we mention, educators get a 10% discount with AP Lazer?

So what are you waiting for?! Contact us today to find out how you can get your hands on an AP Lazer machine.

Additional Links and Resources:
STEM to STEAM
STEAM Education
Engaging Students in the STEM Classroom Through “Making”
Pivot Point: At the Crossroads of STEM, STEAM and Arts Integration
STEAM Funding Endorsed BY NEA
STEAM Ahead: Merging Arts and Science Education
Gaining STEAM: Teaching Science Through Art

laser machines for education

AP Lazer: The Ultimate STEAM Machine

laser machines for educationWhat do laser machines have to do with STEAM?

An essential part of how innovation arises from STEAM-based projects is the process of “making”. Making is simply hands-on creation – building a scale model or prototype, for instance – and much of it happens in “makerspaces” or “Fab Labs” (short for fabrication). Makerspaces are today’s new technology workshops guided by STEAM principles. In nearly every makerspace, you’re bound to find at least a 3D printer and vinyl cutter, maybe some Arduino or Little Bits kits, and – if you’re lucky – the ultimate STEAM tool: a laser machine.

AP16_BLOG_STEAM_laserDetail

With the ability to cut or engrave nearly any material, laser machines are truly the greatest STEAM tool on the market. But don’t take just our word for it. In an article for MakeZine.com, California high school math teacher and “Maker Educator” Casey Shea wrote, “If money were no object, the laser cutter would be my No. 1 tool, as it is perhaps the most versatile tool that I have ever used.”

In an article from 2009, by Mike Dean for SouthEast Education Network, laser machines got rave reviews from both administrators and students. Now you know it has to be good if both teenagers and their authority figures can agree on it.

Dark Steel Robotics, a student robotics team at the Academy of Engineering and Design Technology, found their laser machine to be crucial for their work – using it to create prototypes, cut out “numerous complex components”, and add logos to their robots.

Interested in Learning More?

Call Today: 800-585-8617

Club president Bryan Uber told Dean, “We use the system for a variety of applications — the machine is necessary for so many of the projects we do.” Regarding placing first in the Boston University Design Challenge, Uber said, “The laser engraver was an invaluable tool during this project.” 

students with laser machineAdministrators from the John D. Rockefeller IV Career Center in Hancock County, West Virginia also had glowing remarks about their laser machine. Instructor of building construction Steve Shannon told Dean the following.

The students are all very eager to learn to use the laser. Not only are they intrigued by how it works, but they also realize the many opportunities that a laser machine opens for them out in the world. Some of them see it and immediately think of how to start a small business using it, while some see it as a useful tool for existing enterprises.”

George Danford, director of the Career Center, told Dean:

“The number of things we could find to use this machine for are countless!

There isn’t a program offered today which hasn’t been changed with the incorporation of technology. This is why we selected a laser engraving system, and it has definitely improved our curriculum.”

Alright, I’m convinced. How can I get a laser machine?

Whether you’re looking to add a laser machine to your school or want to start a community makerspace, the first step of purchasing a laser machine is choosing the right one. We offer five models at AP Lazer, which you can easily compare using this handy matrix.

While the upfront costs of purchasing a laser machine can be difficult to navigate on a school budget, know that with this technology, you get what you pay for, and AP Lazer offers the best technology on the market.

Take for instance young entrepreneur Nurul Syazninabila Mohd Ghazali (aka Nabila). According to Cuts Studio: Laser cutting made cool by Lydia Koh, when Nabila first started her laser cutting and woodworking business, she went with a cheaper machine. It ended up breaking. In six months. Don’t make the same mistake as Nabila and invest in an AP Lazer machine from the start.

With STEAM momentum only continuing to build, some teachers are finding success in grant writing to fund their Fab Labs. And if that doesn’t work, take a page from Shea’s book and show your school how much money they could save by having a laser machine. From no longer needing to outsource campus signage, to easily customizing whiteboards for specific lessons, your school will only find more and more ways for your AP Lazer machine to save money.

Why choose an AP Lazer machine?

As a result of revolutionary engineering by founder Tong Li, AP Lazer machines offer exceptional performance, stability, and efficiency that you won’t find elsewhere. Our technology lasts longer and cuts two times faster than competitors. Our unprecedented open architecture design allows you to engrave items of any size. Look here to see what other features make the AP Lazer difference.

Not only are our machines outstanding, but we also offer the best in customer service. Between set-up assistance, video tutorials, AP Lazer University, and 24/7 phone tech support, we’ll answer all questions and solve any problems.


education discount for laser machineLaser engraving business starter package

Oh, and did we mention, educators get a 10% discount with AP Lazer?

So what are you waiting for?! Contact us today to find out how you can get your hands on an AP Lazer machine.

Additional Links and Resources:
STEM to STEAM
STEAM Education
Engaging Students in the STEM Classroom Through “Making”
Pivot Point: At the Crossroads of STEM, STEAM and Arts Integration
STEAM Funding Endorsed BY NEA
STEAM Ahead: Merging Arts and Science Education
Gaining STEAM: Teaching Science Through Art

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