21 Wisconsin School Districts were awarded Fab Lab grants today including Rhinelander, Northland Pines, Phelps, Phillips, and Lakeland Union High School in Oneida, Price and Vilas counties.
A top state official says the Fab Lab started here and has now spread across the states. The Fabrication Laboratories take state of the art computer and Internet technology and harness it to create projects. Some say when it is fully fleshed out, it could revoloutionize manufacturing in rural America.
Grants ranging from $15,000 to $50,000 were awarded in the Northwoods.
Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch says the technology merges with the latest in science, math and technology studies...
"..we looked at these grant applications. You have to know this was a very competitive grant process and there were 69 grant applications we looked over... today, only 21 will be awarded..."
Rhinelander High School Principal David Ditzler said in the grant application they wanted to get students excited about the potential...
"....I'm expecting as this room gets applied across all of our grades, hooks the interests, catches the hearts and the minds of our kids and they can start earlier and earlier in their educational future....."
Representative Rob Swearingen of Rhinelander saysthe earliest Fab Labs were all in this legislative district, including the state's first K-12 Fab Lab in Three Lakes..
"....the first Fab Lab was in Three Lakes, the second was in Florence, we just came from Eagle River was the third, Rhinelander was fourth, I just left Phelps, they got a $15,000 grant that makes them number five, and Lakeland Union makes number six...."
Swearingen acknowledged Don Sidlowski of Three Lakes as the person who began the Fab Lab idea for K-12 schools here. Governor Scott Walker declared the day as Fab Lab Day, as $500,000 in grants were handed out.