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Volkswagen eLab
Posted On:
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Coming August 2018

Soddy Daisy Middle School was chosen to receive one of 8 new Volkswagen eLabs beginning in the 2018-2019 school year. This eLab, which will include a laser cutter, vinyl cutter, and several 3D printers along with many more technology items, will give the students the opportunity to engage with technology in the everyday classroom. We are very excited! Read the full press release below:

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                         

Contact: Tim Hensley, APR


January 30, 2018


Eight more schools to get Volkswagen eLabs

Teens from eight additional schools in Hamilton County Schools will learn in new high tech digital fabrication labs next school year as the schools were announced winners today in the next round of Volkswagen eLabs to be funded by a partnership between Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations and the state of Tennessee.  The schools will receive digital fabrication equipment as part of the Volkswagen eLabs initiative to provide students with access to digital fabrication tools including automated manufacturing equipment, programmable microcomputers, renewable energy kits, 3D printers, robotics, and laser cutters that will empower the young learners to engage in authentic problem-solving.  

The partnership between Volkswagen Chattanooga, the State of Tennessee, Hamilton County Schools and the Public Education Foundation (PEF), made the announcement today at 10 a.m. in a news conference at Orchard Knob Middle School.


The eight schools chosen were:

  • Brainerd High School
  • Brown Middle School
  • Chattanooga High Center for Creative Arts
  • Hixson Middle School
  • Hixson High School
  • Ooltewah Middle School
  • Orchard Knob Middle School
  • Soddy Daisy Middle School


“The Volkswagen eLabs have created an excitement for learning and you can see that in the eyes of the children who have the opportunity to utilize them,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, Superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. “These labs open a new world of possibilities in instruction for teachers and prepare students for the world they will live in tomorrow.”


This was the second round of VW eLabs awarded to schools as a result of a $1 million donation by Volkswagen Chattanooga and the state of Tennessee to fund the program.  The first eight schools were on hand to display how students are using the eLabs and how the learning opportunity is impacting children. The second round of recipients for the Volkswagen eLabs fulfills Volkswagen’s commitment to open a total of 16 eLabs in Hamilton County schools over a two year period.  


“Can you create a water filtration system that does not require electricity?  Can you build a drone delivery system that is not dependent on a landing pad?  Can you create a prosthetic device that enables an animal that’s lost a limb to still be able to run?  Yes, you can,” said Dr. Dan Challener, president of PEF.  “Just ask one of the students displaying their projects here today because they have done these things in a VW eLab.”


In the labs, students are designing and 3D printing orthopedic devices for people and pets with special needs, conducting research on the viability of highly autonomous electric vehicles in Chattanooga and taking salvaged parts from a computer to build a robot. Seven of the eight labs successfully launched student-run entrepreneurial ventures dubbed Ed Corps in partnership with Real World Scholars, a nonprofit e-commerce platform that allows teachers to operate a classroom-based business. Students from the Volkswagen eLab at the Howard School and Red Bank High School partnered with students from the Fab Lab at STEM School Chattanooga to pioneer Hamilton County Schools first multi-campus, international, project-based learning unit.


Training of teachers and resources are key to the success of the VW eLabs and the Public Education Foundation plays an important role in the partnership by providing training, research and resources to teachers, principals and schools.  Michael Stone, PEF Director of Innovative Learning, works with the schools to help equip the Volkswagen eLabs as well as design and lead the professional learning of the teachers in the labs.


The eight chosen schools were required to identify a team of four teachers, including a Volkswagen eLab Specialist, who will serve on the Volkswagen eLab Innovation Team to ensure each Volkswagen eLab is used to the maximum benefit for children. The schools are each responsible for raising $5,000 annually in cash or contributed materials to ensure that the lab is continually refreshed and materials are replaced.

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