The vision for the Mid-Nebraska Makerspace Lab (MNM) is to expose 7th and 8th grad students to STEM skills and draw on area STEM professionals to coach students on STEM projects, college, and career opportunities. MNM Lab was primarily funded by the Nebraska Development Youth Talent Initiative.
There are 3 trailers with 10 labs of STEM/Maker equipment including, but not limited to, a vinyl cutter for marketing, CNC router, 3D printer, UAVs, smart home, and welding simulator all with a focus on STEM in the areas of communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and innovation. The 3 trailers travel through the area for a 2-week stay at participating middle schools.
MNM offers a variety of real projects to students across central Nebraska. For example, students at Riverside Middle School were posed a challenge to combine a couple of the lab activities to create a 3D printed mount for the RVR robot to pull a toy grain cart programmatically through a field. The students created a plan and worked with local businesses to figure out how to do this. Using multiple MNM Lab resources the students created the printed model that could then be used on the robot to successfully pull the grain cart through a field.
Students record a brief video presentation of the skills/projects completed and compete for “Orthman Excellence Awards” that are presented at a capstone event. The capstone event also includes a tour of Central Community College’s Kearney mechatronics program and learn about post-secondary opportunities at CCC in manufacturing sciences and STEM.