Monrovia Unified Middle School Opens New STEM Lab, Includes 3-D Printers and a Laser Cutter

Clifton Middle School seventh-grade student Caroline Squirre was excited to learn how to build her projects through the school’s brand new 3-D printers and laser cutter, in addition to having an education focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), to help pave the road to her dream of attending the California Institute of Technology.

“We will be able to expand our knowledge and learn so much more with this STEM classroom,” Caroline said.

“I’m hoping that this class will help point me in the right direction in becoming an engineer.”

Clifton community members celebrated the opening of a STEM classroom on Sept. 7 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, viewing live demonstrations of the state-of-the-art learning tools and technologies.

“Our students will be immersed in a learning environment that gives them the opportunity to be innovative and creative,” Clifton History Teacher Paul Flores said. “They will use industry-standard technology that will give them the experience and skills needed to prosper in STEM fields.”

Clifton was one of five schools across the nation to win Northrop Grumman Foundation’s 2015 Fab School Labs contest with the support of the community, receiving a $100,000 grant to provide a rigorous classroom environment that will prepare students for in demand careers.

“Thank you to Northrop Grumman and the support of our community for helping us to provide valuable resources to our students and a space for them to further their learning and test their ideas,” Clifton Principal Jennifer Jackson said. “I am excited to see what our students will create throughout the year.”

Clifton Middle School students will be immersed in a rigorous STEM learning environment and have access to state-of-the-art technology and programs used in today’s industries, while adopting an innovative mindset.

Sixth-grade students will learn the history and concepts of innovation throughout the term and participate in projects to develop their creative skills. They will create their own item or concept and improve their inventions to bring them to market by utilizing science and engineering practices.

Once students reach seventh and eighth grade, they will have more opportunities to participate in rigorous hands-on projects. Students will learn how to craft flying objects through an aerodynamics curriculum, which leads to launching a rocket into the sky. Students will also learn how to code and create objects using computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software. They will then bring their creations to life using 3-D printers and a laser cutter.

Students enrolled in the seventh- and eighth-grade combo coding course will create simple games using block and Java coding while learning fundamental programming concepts, including design, testing and debugging, through’s Computer Science Discoveries curriculum. Students will also design and build programmable robots using high-quality components, including motors, sensors and gears, to complete various tasks and challenges using Lego Mindstorm EV3 robots.

“We are not only guiding our students to build a strong foundation that will lead them toward success, but we are also raising the leaders of tomorrow,” Board of Education President Bryan Wong said. “One of the ways we are preparing our students for their futures is to envelop them in a robust STEM education, where they will master skills in critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration.”

Clifton robotics students will also apply the skills and knowledge they have adopted through their STEM education to build their international champion robotics team.

“Monrovia Unified is dedicated to providing a content-rich education for our students, engaging them throughout every subject and connecting them to the world in which we live,” Superintendent Dr. Katherine Thorossian said. “We recognize that the education we provide our students today will serve as the backbone to their success tomorrow. This responsibility is what motivates us to provide to best for our students.”


1 – Zach Szymkowski (left), a former member of Clifton Middle School’s robotics team, immediately performs minor repairs on a robot to accurately throw baseball-sized balls and lift a yoga-sized ball into red and blue baskets. Clifton’s Hippie Bots are international champions, and will be able to apply the skills and knowledge they will adopt through their STEM education to build their international champion team.- Courtesy photo

2 – Clifton Middle School community members celebrated the opening of a brand new STEM classroom on Sept. 7 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, viewing live demonstrations of the state-of-the-art learning tools and technologies, including a laser cutter and four 3-D printers. – Courtesy photo

September 12, 2017

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