The end of winter in Austin, Texas, means that you can count on two things: bluebonnets and South by Southwest (SXSW). The annual conference brings together the best in movies, interactive technology, and music.
First held in 1987, SXSW lasts for 10 days and fills the city with visitors from around the world. This year, I attended the SXSW EDU Conference and Festival, a four-day event that showcased ideas for improving STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education across the United States.
One of my stops was a mobile fabrication lab, or Fab Lab, which offers hands-on learning. “Students from all over the city can design, create, and even invent on our machines,” said Brent Richardson, developer of the BakerRipley Fab Lab Houston. A mobile lab with the same technology and equipment as the one in Houston provides accessibility to students in outlying communities.
Cultivating STEM expertise in labs that are safe and accessible, Richardson added, inspires creativity and curiosity and helps students develop important skills for the future.