Innovation Station

Innovation Station Inspired by Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab

Innovation Station at the Chula Vista Library, Civic Center Branch

Group of students at Innovation StationInspired by the Qualcomm® Thinkabit Lab™, the Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD) and the City of Chula Vista collaborated to open “Innovation Station” in the basement of the Library’s Civic Center branch, located at 365 F Street. Innovation Station was modeled after Qualcomm’s lab in Sorrento Valley. The Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab fosters student interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers. Innovation Station extends the hands-on learning to the community.

With its brightly colored walls, bean bag chairs, and whir of “robo-crafting,” this is not your grandfather’s basement workspace. It is a makerspace, which educator Diana Rendina defines as a place where students can gather to create, invent, tinker, explore and discover using a variety of tools and materials.

The lab opened to Chula Vista sixth grade students on August 1, 2016. 

Why is Innovation Station so important?

“The students’ eyes light up when they see the lab space. You get the ‘Wow’ effect. You literally hear the students say ‘Wow!’ as they enter,” said Michael Bruder, District engineering teacher, who is based at the Library.

District officials said Innovation Station can make a life-changing impact on students and adults alike. “The space is truly unique, and it was made possible through a creative collaboration that embodies the best of each agency,” said CVESD Superintendent Francisco Escobedo, Ed.D. “ We are proud to be a part of this Library makeover, and look forward to collaborating with other business and technology leaders to enhance the learning experience for all of our students.”

Military veterans who are looking to re-enter the workforce, older teens, and other adults who are looking to strengthen their skill set will also find a place at Innovation Station, officials said. The massive makeover of the basement was supported by a state library grant, Friends of the Chula Vista Library, city funding, the school district, and intellectual and in-kind support from Qualcomm Incorporated.

“What we have here is so much more than the physical renovation of underutilized space, which is a miracle for us in itself,” said Betty Waznis, former Director of the Chula Vista Public Library.“ What we have here is really above and beyond. The whole is definitely more than the sum of the parts. It is the prestige and global perspective of Qualcomm. It is the inspiration of our dynamic teacher from CVESD. It is the bringing of our library into the 21st Century. It is now a beautiful public space, perfect for intergenerational learning. And this is just the beginning. We look forward to welcoming the community to afterschool, evening and weekend opportunities to learn and experiment.”

What will my child learn?

From the very beginning of the experience, students are encouraged to think about something that they have created and the potential that they have to make a positive impact on the world. Once they enter our "World of Work" space, we use of a strengths-based approach when working with students as we share with them their unique strengths and interests as shown in the results from an assessment they complete before they attend the lab. We introduce them to nearly 50 different careers available in our region, including the Priority Sectors from the San Diego Workforce Partnership as well as from local partners such as the Living Coast Discovery Center and Olympic Training Center.

During the engineering portion of our experience, students have the opportunity to be electrical and mechanical engineers as well as computer scientists. They learn how to use a microcontroller to wire and program LED lights and different type of servos/motors. They then use these servos to design, build, and program a robotic/artistic project.

The lab continues to positively impact teaching and learning across our district, as well as within those who have observed and implemented our work in their own setting, such as the Sweetwater Union High School District and South Bay Union School District. At the end of the day, when students reflect on their experiences, they often share how they enjoyed learning about their strengths, interests, values, and especially how they can connect those with a career that interests them for the future. Both teachers and students enjoy the hands-on, project-based engineering experience as well. The high level of student interest and engagement during this time has led to various teachers and school sites seeking out advice from our engineering teacher on how to integrate this into their instruction as well as how to create their own makerspaces.

Are there plans to add similar facilities to other libraries?

Students collaborating at Innovation StationState library officials are hailing Innovation Station as a model for other libraries in California. The project was supported in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian. The idea is an extension of CVESD’s Mae L. Feaster Charter School success. Feaster’s Thinkabit-inspired lab received a host of kudos and awards for its innovative approach to instruction. For example, Feaster third grade students learn about torsion, tension, compression, and shear. Upper grade students learn to code for Arduino, an open-source electronics platform intended for making interactive projects. Feaster’s experience prompted District officials to explore ways to offer the experience to other schools. The Library was a perfect solution, officials said.

How does the program enhance student learning?

A variety of the attributes that make up our program enhance student learning and behavior. This begins before students arrive, when they take a strengths assessment in their classroom. Once here, our engineering teacher explores the results of these assessments, sharing both their classroom and personal strengths. This helps students to connect with their classmates as well as learn more about themselves. Focusing upon their interests increases their engagement and helps students understand the difference between a career, something they will love to do, as opposed to a job that is something they just have to do. Finally, after reflecting on their personal values, students have the opportunity to select career cards that they take home and can explore further through videos on Thrively. After the "World of Work" experience, students move on to our makerspace. Here, they tinker with electrical and mechanical engineering, computer science, and arts and crafts. Rather than being consumers of technology, they explore the creative side of technology, which ultimately results in robotic/artistic creations that they present to their classmates at the end of the experience.

Adobe Spark Page
Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2023 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved.