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Future Classroom Lab expands educational reach

The Future Classroom Lab at Texas Woman’s University (TWUFCL) is expanding its educational reach with plans for a new summer camp and new 3D technology added to the lab.

A $30,000 grant from the Communities Foundation of Texas is being used to fund Camp Computing in Deaf Education (CoDE) for Girls, scheduled June 14-18 on the Denton campus. Chad Smith (Education of the Deaf, Denton), co-founder of the TWUFCL, said foundation sought applications for ideas to assist girls whose access to hands-on STEM experiences were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We wanted to provide K-8 girls who are deaf/hard of hearing and their teachers the opportunity to explore coding and robotics, two areas often non-accessible in deaf education, and even less so via online learning during the pandemic,” Smith said. He and Jian Zhang (Computer Science, Denton) are leading the camp with the goal of “helping girls and their teachers experience hands-on robotics and recognize that both coding and robotics are not out of their reach and can be part of their school and career options,” Smith said.

A donation from alumna and former Regent Nancy Paup and her husband Ted to the TWUFCL will enable future teachers to explore using 3D printing in the classroom with students.

“Introducing 3D technology to future teachers and K-12 students, both deaf and hearing, fully supports the four Cs of 21st Century Learning – critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration,” Smith said.

Some attendees of K-12 camps held in the lab also will have opportunities to work together and learn to 3D print as part of those camps, he said.

“The goal is for students to learn to plan and create resources that are solutions to questions that arise during technology experiences in the TWUFCL,” Smith said. “TWU students will be able to learn the fundamentals of 3D printing and how they can be applied to the K-12 classroom with students who are deaf or hearing, then teach their students in ways that are both meaningful and accessible.”