Students at an Acres Homes middle school have new means of tapping into their potential.
Biopharmaceutical company AbbVie partnered with nonprofit educational enrichment group Heart of America to provide a STEM makeover at M.C. Williams Middle School, which unveiled its new learning tools and a new STEM lab June 7. More than 40 volunteers transformed an area in the school into a STEM lab that will provide its 500 students with access to new technology and hands-on tools for designing, building, tinkering and creating projects.
“Heart of America is thrilled to partner with AbbVie for a sixth year to create engaging and inspiring STEM-focused spaces all across the country,” said Jill Heath, president and CEO of the Heart of America Foundation. “Volunteers serve in the communities where they work by giving back to schools that will deeply benefit from an infusion of new design, maker technologies and books to enrich instruction year-round.”
Volunteers from the two organizations painted, built and moved furniture, deep-cleaned fixtures and windows, hung artwork and assembled technology and makerspace components and resources such as iPads and a 3-D printer in the lab space.
With her campus already being a STEM magnet school within Houston ISD, Williams principal Roshanda Griffin said she welcomed the opportunity to expand with a second STEM lab when Heart of America contacted the campus this past spring. Previously, the school had just one lab upstairs that was used for robotics.
“Having an additional lab will give us more opportunities to offer STEM programs to our incoming sixth-grade students. Before, we would have to schedule our sixth graders to go upstairs, but this will allow us to assign more students to STEM labs as an elective,” Griffin said of the lab, located in the school’s sixth-grade hall. “With these labs, we can tap into the gifts they have, and they begin to make more informed decisions about their future.”
The project was part of AbbVie’s annual “Week of Possibilities” that focuses on creating quality educational environments that positively impact children’s development across the country.
“Once we look at where we started and where we ended up, I like to imagine students coming in and having these resources at their fingertips,” AbbVie’s Toni Haubert said. “If we can spark interest in STEM for one student from our work, it’s worth it.”