The Oakley STEM Center has a new method of educating in the rural areas surrounding Tech. The STEM Center uses a trailer with the latest technology to travel to rural schools and educate students and teachers.
The STEMobile, as is it called by STEM Center students and employees , is a shipping container designed to use technology to teach kids from kindergarten to middle school. Twenty-one schools from 21 counties in the Upper Cumberland area were selected to have the STEMobile travel to their schools.
“It was designed for schools to use the technology on board that can’t afford it,” said STEM internet technologies associate Rob Reab. Reab helped design the STEMobile and currently oversees the day-to-day functions. “I designed it down to the light levels and how it would use heat and air conditioning,” said Reab.
The STEMobile is a shipping container that has 30 iPads, six high definition TVs, and even water. The TVs are connected with Apple TV technology, which allows the teachers and students using the iPads to put images and videos on the monitors inside the trailer.
Director of the STEM Center Dr. Sally J. Pardue said, “It’s a faboulous connection to surrounding rural counties that gives them ways of teaching and learning that everyone needs to get behind and make donations. Hopefully, we can have four or five of these in the future.”
The container started with a $250,000 donation from Tech and a $100,000 grant from the state of Tennessee. After working on the structure for over a year, it is estimated that the STEMobile has about $500,000 worth of equipment and technology on board.
Graduate student Nick McGehee said, “It’s extremely accessible. All students and teachers have to do is use the equipment on board.”
McGehee is also conducting research to show the impact the STEMobile is having in the rural schools to which it goes.