Bucks County IU Fab Lab plans to expand thanks to donation

Bucks County IU 22  |  Posted on

The Bucks IU Fab Lab, which focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) education programs for students throughout Bucks County and surrounding areas, recently announced plans to expand thanks to a recent donation from two local Bucks County residents, Paul and Aarati Martino.

The Fab Lab is home to digital fabrication and computer science equipment, paired with age-appropriate curricula that engages and educates youth of all ages. In 2023 alone, the Fab Lab reached more than 3,000 children, ranging in age from Pre-K through 12th grade, with programs built to engage today’s students on STEAM topics including computer science, engineering and digital fabrication. The Fab Lab’s programming includes after-school clubs, summer camps, ‘STEAM Saturday’ events, school field trips, and specialty program for days when students are off from school. Professional development programs are also provided related to STEAM topics and resources, as well as teaching techniques for educators and administrators.

Fab Lab programs cultivate student interest in STEAM subjects in preparation for tomorrow’s workforce – employment and life in a 21st century, technology-driven, global economy. Schools can then encourage growth and advancement in those areas by guiding student’s academic choices to best align with their selected area of interest and career goals. Helping youth find their futures, in areas where job and career growth is projected, benefits both the students and the state.

In Pennsylvania, it is expected that there will be 590,000 new and replacement jobs through 2026 with STEAM jobs growing at over 9%. Over the next ten years, over 71% of all jobs will require computer science skills with STEAM, health, and business majors generally earning the highest salaries. Additionally, research shows that STEAM instruction offers benefits in a student’s post-secondary career, even if that student does not pursue a STEAM career.

“We are grateful for this contribution from the Martinos and are excited to see Bucks County residents committed to the growth and expansion of STEAM education in the county,” said Dr. Mark Hoffman, Bucks IU Executive Director. Dr. Lindsey Rutherford Sides, Bucks IU Supervisor of STEAM Education added, “Our focus on growing STEAM education for students in Bucks County also includes acting as a resource for STEAM educators, and we’ll now be able to increase our capacity in reaching both these targets.”

Pennsylvania is strongly promoting STEAM education and has enacted several programs to increase STEAM engagement. With this $100,000 contribution the Fab Lab will be able to expand its services to a significantly larger number of students annually. Paul Martino envisions a world where the Fab Lab can serve tens of thousands through additional donations and contributions from local businesses that need STEAM graduates in their workforce.

“The Fab Lab is exciting to me because it started as a mobile van going to schools to teach kids about concepts using 3D printing and NextGen manufacturing.” said Paul. “But they continue to think bigger. They’ve added a brick-and-mortar location, an additional van, and are reaching more students with significant programming. I foresee the Fab Lab even scaling up to multiple regions across the state. I want to applaud the Bucks IU for having such a forward-looking and entrepreneurial vision with this program and the courage to bring it to life.”