Sixth-graders at Reynoldsburg's Baldwin Road Junior High School hope some time they spent in the district's Fab Lab will help younger students meet the requirements of Ohio's third-grade reading guarantee.
Teacher Sandy Guinto said about 100 sixth-graders working on a "Reyn-a-Book" project used the resources at the Fab Lab, housed in the district's eSTEM Academy, to help build six boxes to hold books.
The boxes will be mini lending libraries; people who borrow books from them are expected to return the books. Students will monitor the boxes and exchange the selection of books on a regular basis, she said.
"It is our hope to place them in areas where people frequent, such as a coffee shop or possibly an apartment management office in one of the lower-income housing complexes," Guinto said. "The idea is to get the books into the hands of people who can't get to the library because of transportation or work hours."
Teacher Lauren Culp said students started the project in response to the state's third-grade reading guarantee, which states students must be able to read at a third-grade level before being promoted to the next grade.
"We are a STEM school (science, technology, engineering and math), so students are given a problem within the school, community, state or world and must come up with a solution to solve the problem, as well as a prototype for their design," Culp said.
"They researched literacy rates and were amazed by the numbers. Many people of all ages are unable to read and do not have access to libraries because of transportation issues."
She said the students' solution was to create an easily accessible, free, book-lending experience called "Reyn-a-Book."
The students worked on the boxes Nov. 7-9 in the eSTEM Academy Fab Lab, which had a grand opening Nov. 6.
Battelle Memorial Institute contributed $40,000 to fund the Fab Lab, which is where students "put their STEM subjects into practice by using 3D printers, laser cutters and large-format printers for rapid prototyping and design," said Rob Evans, communications manager for Battelle.
To celebrate the grand opening, Battelle staff members were invited to the eSTEM Academy for a special presentation and tour.
Evans said Superintendent Steve Dackin, eSTEM Principal Scott Bennett and Battelle CEO Jeff Wadsworth all spoke at the event and Reynoldsburg students gave tours and demonstrated the machines.
"The Battelle Fab Lab is an extension of the top-quality instruction students in Reynoldsburg experience," Wadsworth said.
Guinto said using the Fab Lab was a big convenience.
"It would be difficult for me to manage 25 sixth-grade students and power tools within my classroom," she said. "Using the Fab Lab also gave the kids a connection to our high school and experiences that they can look forward to. The sixth-graders designed the box dimensions and then the high school students made them."
Culp said the students are organizing a book drive through Dec. 2 to fill the boxes.
"We plan to continue collecting the books throughout the school year, however, to exchange them with other books in the boxes," Culp said. "We have a donation box in the front lobby of the school. Inside the books, we will put labels that state, 'Property of Reyn-a-Book Baldwin Road Junior High'."
Anyone interested in donating books should email Linda Geist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Culp said the project covers aspects of language arts, social studies, technology and engineering, along with some math.