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First 8 Hamilton County schools to receive Volkswagen eLabs named

By opening 16 Volkswagen eLabs over the course of the next 15 months, Hamilton County schools says it will lead the nation in digital fabrication in formal education settings. (Image: Volkswagen of Chattanooga)

Volkswagen Group of America, Chattanooga Operations (Volkswagen Chattanooga) and the State of Tennessee have named the first eight Hamilton County Department of Education (HCDE) schools to receive science laboratory equipment as part of the Volkswagen eLabs initiative.

The eight schools chosen are:

  • Chattanooga School for the Arts & Sciences
  • Dalewood Middle School
  • East Hamilton Middle High School
  • The Howard School
  • Hunter Middle School
  • Normal Park Museum Magnet
  • Red Bank Middle & High Schools (participating together)
  • Sale Creek Middle/High School

Twenty HCDE middle and high schools applied for funds to create Volkswagen eLabs in their schools. The proposals were evaluated using the panel review process established by the National Science Foundation.

Of the 20, 11 schools were identified as unanimous finalists. After extensive site visits at each school by representatives from the panel review committee, eight schools were chosen to receive Volkswagen eLabs in this first round.

Administered by the Public Education Foundation (PEF), Volkswagen eLabs will provide students access to digital fabrication tools including automated manufacturing equipment, programmable microcomputers, renewable energy kits, 3D printers, robotics, laser cutters, and other emergent technologies that will empower them to engage in authentic problem solving.

The eight chosen schools were required to identify a team of four teachers including a Volkswagen eLab Specialist who will serve on the Volkswagen eLab Innovation Team to ensure each Volkswagen eLab is used to its maximum capacity.

“I’d like to congratulate each of the schools that are a part of this first group of Volkswagen eLab partnerships,” said Nicole Koesling, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Volkswagen Chattanooga. “Volkswagen has a long history of fostering hands-on learning, especially in the science, technology and engineering disciplines. We are proud to be working with all of our partners to be a catalyst for learning with our local schools,” she said.

“We are so pleased for the eight Hamilton County Schools that have been chosen to receive Volkswagen eLabs,” TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe said. “Education is a top priority for the State of Tennessee and with the tools that the Volkswagen eLabs will provide, these schools will be able to better educate our future workforce through this innovative program. I want to thank our partners at Volkswagen for providing this program to these eight schools and I look forward to seeing what can be accomplished through the Volkswagen eLabs.”

HCDE Interim Superintendent Dr. Kirk Kelly says he is looking forward to seeing the completed Volkswagen eLabs in the eight schools. “Volkswagen Chattanooga’s generous grant to fund Volkswagen eLabs is a perfect fit with our focus on ensuring our students are future ready,” Dr. Kelly said. “We are so thankful to have Volkswagen as a partner in education with both the Mechatronics Akademie and now the Volkswagen eLabs. HCDE students will lead the way in the 21st century workforce.”

The program will be administered in partnership with the Public Education Foundation (PEF) an independent, nonprofit organization that provides training, research and resources to teachers, principals and schools in Hamilton County. PEF Director of Innovative Learning Michael Stone will help schools equip their Volkswagen eLabs, as well as design and lead the professional learning of the educators in the schools with labs.

“We’ve been truly inspired by the quantity and quality of the proposals we received and the extraordinary educators we met as we made the extremely difficult decisions of selecting the eight schools. Given the enormous interest in Volkswagen eLabs, we’re really glad that we will be able to select eight additional schools next year," said PEF President Dr. Dan Challener.

“One of the best ways we can invest in our state’s future is to invest in education, and increasing educational opportunities has been a large part of Tennessee’s story in recent years,” said Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Candice McQueen. “The creation of these eLabs will keep our state on the path forward, providing innovative opportunities for our students to learn and grow as they prepare for their futures.”

The VW eLab awardees were selected by representatives from Volkswagen Chattanooga, Tennessee Department of Education, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Hamilton County Department of Education, and Public Education Foundation.

Hamilton County middle & high school will be able to apply for funds in 2018 to be chosen for the remaining eight Volkswagen eLabs. By opening 16 Volkswagen eLabs over the course of the next 15 months, Hamilton County schools says it will lead the nation in digital fabrication in formal education settings.

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