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Safe Harbor Awarded Grant for Afterschool Manufacturing Academy

Safe Harbor Students at Valpo

Safe Harbor students visit Valparaiso University

Students at CNC router

Students work with a CNC router

Students drive robots

Students drive robots at Valparaiso University

Michigan City’s Safe Harbor Afterschool Program was awarded a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Innovation Grant from the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) for the 2018-2019 school year.  The grant funds will be used to develop Afterschool Manufacturing Academies at three elementary schools and develop new, hands-on activities that will challenge afterschool students to solve real-world problems.

Safe Harbor Director Sherri Silcox said, “In the past few years, we have been successful in introducing our afterschool students to computer coding activities and programming mini-robots.  And we are excited that this grant will provide Safe Harbor with the resources to develop new STEM programming that goes well beyond coding and will engage our afterschool students to understand and implement the Engineering Design Process to solve problems.  By learning the Engineering Design Process to ‘ask, imagine, plan, create and improve’, 4th through 6th grade students will be able to develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills and also manufacture solutions using 3D printers and Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) routers.”

Safe Harbor Development Manager Abby May said, “While this grant will focus on creating Afterschool Manufacturing Academies at Edgewood, Coolspring and Lake Hills elementary schools, we are already planning on leveraging these efforts to provide Engineering Design Process activities at Joy, Knapp and Marsh schools as well.  With the amount of STEM activities that Safe Harbor provides for students across the youth spectrum from Kindergarten through 12th grade, we highly encourage parents to enroll their students in the Safe Harbor afterschool program in order that more students can improve their STEM literacy and competencies.”

A key factor in securing the grant award from the IDOE was Safe Harbor’s success in assembling multiple local partners to assist in the implementation of the grant.  Safe Harbor’s Senior Robotics Mentor Al Walus said, “We would not have been successful in receiving this grant award without the support of Sullair, ArcelorMittal, Valparaiso University (VU) and the MCHS Robotics Team.  A key part of this grant is bridging the gap between students and local STEM-rich institutions and industry.  VU will host afterschool students for a campus visit, Sullair will host students to visit a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and grant funding from ArcelorMittal has provided funds to purchase a CNC machine as part of this effort.”

The Safe Harbor team kicked-off implementation of the grant this past Tuesday by taking a dozen Safe Harbor students from Edgewood elementary school on an afterschool Field Trip to VU’s Gellersen Engineering & Mathematics Center.  Safe Harbor students were met by VU Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Dr. Sami Khorbotly and Michigan City High School Robotics Team alumnus Scott Kreighbaum who is now a freshman student at VU studying engineering.  During their visit to the campus, Safe Harbor students were provided a tour of the VU Solar Furnace, Biometrics Lab, 3-D Virtual Reality Design Lab, and Computer-Integrated Manufacturing Lab.

The first Afterschool Manufacturing Academy will be established at Edgewood school this fall, followed by Coolspring school in January, and Lake Hills school in March.

For more information about the Safe Harbor afterschool programs and how to register, call Safe Harbor at 219-873-2026.