Purdue University’s IN-MaC program (Manufacturing Competitiveness Center) partnered with the city of Indianapolis to open Wonder Lab Jr. in the city and Tippercanoe County. Wonder Lab Jr. are design tech labs that brings technology and STEAM skills to elementary students and encourages the application of design and art within schools. The Lab had their grand opening on the 13th at Sunnyside School of International Studies in Indianapolis and at Burnett Creek Elementary School. The schools have eight and ten 3-D printers respectively along with design software and STEAM education kits.
“TJ Kim, associate professor of industrial design in the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts, works with teachers at Burnett Creek Elementary to help them set up a Wonder Lab Jr. These labs bring design technology to elementary schools and show students the practical applications and benefits of art.” Source: Purdue News.
Beyond Design alum and Purdue Associate Professor, T.J. Kim, was instrumental in the transition of knowledge to teachers and students using Wonder Labs. TJ spoke with Purdue News and said, “design is about finding new applications for technology through artistic abilities, which opens doors for students and helps them think differently about learning art in school.” Wonder Labs open these doors and start the design process for students at a much younger age leading to the continual evolution of the next generation of designers. Principal of Burnett Creek, Matt Ridenour, said that with the help of teachers and PTO the school transformed a computer lab into the Wonder Lab.
Originally, Wonder was developed to help community members who were interested in adding to their professional skill set or those interested in start ups and needed prototyping and lab assistance. In Indy, the “makerspace” Ruckus is where Wonder Lab initially called home. At Ruckus, 30 art, design and engineering startups learned design thinking techniques. From there, Wonder Lab Jr. was born and evolved into what we see today in the two Indiana elementary schools. Impressively, only these two schools in the country have a Wonder Lab Jr. That number will hopefully grow to every state to continue encouraging the teaching of arts and design in the states.
Check out the WFLI coverage on TJ and Wonder Labs here and below!