Hamilton Co. Schools add 15 new eLabs


HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn  (WDEF) – Hamilton County Schools and the Public Education Foundation have teamed up to open 15 new eLabs, or Fablabs,  to the school system- thanks to an $1 million investment from an anonymous donor. 

These new labs will be added gradually over the next three years.

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“Thanks to the investment of this partnership, thousands of Hamilton County students will now have the opportunity to learn how to solve today’s problems with the tools of tomorrows,” says Dan Challener, President of PEF. 

These eLabs provide students with learning opportunities in engineering, computing, and environmental technology through hands-on activities with digital fabrication equipment.

“If this past year has taught us anything it’s that we have got to teach kids how to problem solve, collaborate , be nimble in their problem solving and to be able to solve problems that we don’t even know exist yet. These eLabs will create this incredible space to do that. Kids can come together in groups and come up with problems and solutions,” says Jill Levine, Chief of Innovation and Choice for HCS. 

 “We’re letting students learn by doing, so they are engaged, but they are also solving more problems and learning the skills they need. They are learning how to use the machine but that is not as important as learning how to problem solve and work on real world problems,” says Challener.

ELab Instructor at Brown Middle School says these fablabs give students the confidence to try and build more projects. 

“Before they might have had to make something out of cardboard and glue sticks, which is still important, but now you can move that prototype to 3D printing, laser cutting, and add micro computing to it. It shows them that they can do things and once they have the tools to do it , the world is open to them,” says Chris Seanard, Instructor at Brown Middle. 

With the addition of these new 15 fablabs Hamilton County Schools now have more of these types of labs than any other school district in the world.


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Joeli Poole joined the WDEF News 12 Team in April 2019 as a Reporter and Producer. You can find her reporting during the week and when not on camera; she's producing the 6 and 11 shows. Joeli grew up with a love for reporting, starting in middle school. She has been the anchor for her middle and high school TV stations, along with the Sports Anchor for her College TV Station. Joeli grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and moved to Tennessee when she 10 years old. She went to Cleveland Middle school and Walker Valley High School. She graduated in May of 2019 from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a bachelor's degree in Communications. Being from the area, Joeli loves being able to help tell the stories of her community. In her spare time, Joeli enjoys watching her LSU Tigers, hiking, and playing with her dog. Feel free to email any story ideas at jpoole@wdef.com.