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The Student News Site of CFHS

The Lantern

The Student News Site of CFHS

The Lantern

The Student News Site of CFHS

The Lantern

Innovating for impact

The Gemini Corporation has made an impressive donation to Cannon Falls Schools to fund a lab dedicated to exploration of creativity and innovation in the areas of STEM.
Innovating+for+impact
Gavin Harrington

This year, students returned from an extra-long summer break due to construction, with all sorts of changes in the school; improved AC, extensions made on the auto shop, and a carpetless cafeteria have all made themselves known since the school year began. But located in room 112A, next to the IMC, sits one of the biggest changes made to the school: The Innovation Lab.

Gavin Harrington

The Innovation Lab is unlike any other lab. It’s an educational opportunity with a wide assortment of gadgets that learners can experiment with. Students at Cannon Falls can become more fluent in new technology and have fun while learning how to use it. Mrs. Dombeck, the lab’s supervisor, describes it as, “a maker space lab that contains multiple devices, multiple software systems, and a variety of tools and resources to create or to innovate.” These devices include laser engravers, 3D printers, vinyl cutters, a button maker, a digital media studio, a Mac, iPads, 20 PCs, coding robots and rovers, and last but not least, drones. In other words, there is a lot to do in here, and the only real limit is one’s imagination.

The advanced drone technology in the innovation lab. (Bowen Maki)

One important detail about the Innovation Lab is how it’s structured to not look like a class. In fact, it was specifically designed not to be a class. There’s no credit to earn, no assignments, only experimentation. The lack of structure is meant to encourage students to fail and to try again, rather than fail and call it quits. In the lab, failure doesn’t take points from one’s grade, instead, it lets students learn from their mistakes and enjoy the learning process. Failure is treated as the important part of learning that it is, and is encouraged.  As Mrs. Dombeck puts it, the lab is about “more play than work.”

To use the Innovation Lab, there is a form published on the Cannon Falls Area Schools website where students can request time and resources in the lab. If a student would like to spend some time innovating themself, they can sign up under the Student Innovation tab on the Cannon Falls homepage, labeled “Innovation Lab Request Form.” So far, some classes have brought their students to the Innovation Lab for specific assignments, but that’s not all the lab is for. Other students have used the lab to create for their own interests outside of school. For example, two students — Magnus Swanson and Corbin Schroeder — have started a weekly sports podcast inviting and interviewing student-athletes at Cannon Falls. Swanson says that he enjoyed using the lab and found it to be a beneficial new part of the school. “It gives the students a way to find what they enjoy and express it in a positive way,” he says. To listen to their podcast, anyone can find it under the “Student Innovation” tab on the Cannon Falls Area Schools website, where the creations made in the Innovation Lab will be uploaded, and then under podcasts.

The 3D printer that makes all everyone’s dreams come true. (Bowen Maki)

Mrs. Dombeck says that she hopes Cannon Falls students realize how fortunate we are to have this tool available to us. “The Innovation Lab will make us the envy of many other schools,” she says. Its creation was mostly funded by Gemini and partially by the Cannon Falls Education Foundation. Their generosity allowed the school to expand into new technology and make it more accessible for students, providing them the opportunity to expand their knowledge in this ever-growing realm of creation. But alongside this opportunity comes responsibility. Students must take care of this resource and ensure that they keep the lab in the best shape they can. The lab is for everyone, so it is everyone’s job to do their part in taking care of it.

Matching frogs made with the new 3D printer. (Bowen Maki)

The Innovation Lab, as a part of the school, is exceptionally valuable to the student body. Not only does it provide students with the opportunity to learn and experiment with technology, but it also encourages them to do so in their own ways. It’s crucial to understand just how fortunate Cannon Falls MS/HS is to have the lab within reach. The lab is there for students to learn and discover technology in an enjoyable way. So, inside room 112A, the Innovation Lab is waiting for students to experiment and have fun.

About the Contributors
Gavin Harrington, Special Projects Editor-in-chief
How's it going? My name is Gavin Harrington and I'm a senior podcaster and videographer in the Lantern. I enjoy living out my usually unassuming days: sitting with a friend over call, listening to podcasts, looking out the window on a car ride, living life.
Piper O'Gorman, Features Writer
Howdy! I’m Piper. I am a senior and a writer for the Features category. I also do tech for the theatre department, am a member of the environmental club, and do speech. I spend my free time participating in shenanigans, tomfoolery, and overall clownish behavior.