Welcome to the STEAM Shop Innovation Lab
PCHS is an independent public charter school that welcomes 2,900 students from 100+ LA area zip codes. We offer robust educational opportunities across the 9-12 curriculum and throughout our after-school sports and performing arts programs. The Pali STEAM Shop is our innovation lab in a converted industrial arts classroom. It serves as the center point of our campaign to build an engineering pathway offering hand’s-on/mind’s-on activities in formal and informal formats. Our aim is to offer new ways to engage students in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) through computer science, engineering, and robotics. Additionally, the Pali STEAM Shop serves as a model for other public high schools facing the common challenges of public school innovation: funding, developing standards-based curriculum, and the UC A-G entrance requirements.
The US has an estimated 2 million unfilled, well paying, STEM jobs. Generally, our public school system lags behind other industrialized nations in graduating students who go into STEM careers. Additionally, minorities and socio-economically disadvantaged students are significantly underrepresented in STEM fields. Thus the Pali STEAM Shop is a maker-space with a mission: We aim to offer underrepresented students increased access to STEM career pathways. Innovation labs that blend traditional shop tools with digital technologies promote differentiated learning and allow a wider range of learners to tackle and master STEM challenges. We believe that innovative concepts like wearable tech and 3D printing provide unique engagement opportunities that lead to student driven learning and youth entrepreneurship.
History and Recognition
The Pali STEAM Shop program began in the spring of 2013 when our Executive Director, Dr. Magee, and PCHS board members toured the Stanford Design School’s Transformative Learning Technologies Lab (Fab Lab). Stanford and the MIT Media Lab share the credit for the educational innovations that maker-spaces provide: a constructivist approach to engineering with an emphasis on programming and physical computing that blends new digital technologies with traditional shop tools. Maker-spaces and Fab Labs often promote collaboration over competition, serve as incubators for new inventions and businesses, and promote a culture of freedom to fail as an integral part of developing a growth mindset. The philosophy of ‘positive pivoting’ has been core to the program’s growth as the STEAM Shop team navigated the funding and curriculum challenges common to educational innovations. The lab is located in our former Auto Shop classroom, which was had been used for school storage for over a decade. Our long-view approach, a combination of Auto Shop with Innovation Lab, and our public school status make the STEAM Shop program unique in the field of making in education, which has led to presentations at major leading educational conferences: California Stem Symposium, LACOE Digital Educator Conference, EdCampLA, LEAD 3.0, UCCI Curriculum Conference and MakerFaire San Mateo. In 2014 our STEAM Shop staff lead, Donna Mandosa, was named an Excite Award recipient from the MIT-Lemelson Inventeams Program. In March 2016 the STEAM Shop was profiled by Intel/TBS for their America's Greatest Makers TV series. In June 2016 the US Department of Education named the STEAM Shop a CTE Makeover Winner for our "innovative, replicable, multi-functional, feasible, and sustainable makerspace that can serve as a model for schools across the country".
The Pali STEAM Shop serves as a home base for multiple engineering clubs: Robotics, Rocketry, Animation, Girls Who Code, 3D Printing, SHPE and Virtual Reality. Our Pali Robotics Club competes in the annual, worldwide VEX Robotics Competition, designing and building robots that can navigate an obstacle course, pick up objects, and perform other tasks symbolic of the roles robots play in the workplace, industry, and space exploration. It is an engineering challenge designed as a game. While competitive in nature, the challenge does require collaboration among teammates in the design phase and across teams during events. Our Rocketry Club was formed in December 2014 by a group of students who wanted to learn about rocketry through the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC), an annual competition for which students must design rockets that safely carry an ‘egg astronaut’. Both robotics and rocketry require a similar mix of digital tools for 3D design and traditional tools for building. Our Girls Who Code, SHPE and 3D Printing Clubs were all founded by students driven to explore new tools and new skills.
The STEAM Shop Innovation Lab also serves as a home base for four classes: STEAM Pod (9th only), STEAM elective (9-12), Game Design and Robotics. All STEAM Shop classes have access to a wide variety of tools, from classic hand tools to 3D printers and CNCs. Over the course of a single semester STEAM Pod students are introduced to core innovation concepts through projects like 3D Character Design, Games For Change Game Jam, Virtual Reality Storytelling and Genius Hour. Addtionally, all STEAM Shop students are welcome to attend our industry field trips. We've toured RIOT Games, learned welding at Molten Metal Works, experienced 360 at VRLA Expo, and played hundreds of independent games at IndieCade.