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Full steam ahead with the new Ford STEAM lab


carBY DANIEL CHERRIN: Imagine being a student again and your teacher writes the words “climate change” on the board, turns around and said, “Find a way to address the problems around climate change.”

At the Ford STEAM Lab, students are given real world problems and are asked to solve them. Not only that, but they are given the tools and resources to actually follow through on their plans. “Through design-thinking we empower students and teachers to focus on what is important to them,” said Deborah Parizek, HFLI Executive Director.

The Ford STEAM Lab levearages a blended-learning digital curriculum developed in partnership with the Henry Ford Learning Institute (HFLI). The curriculum exposes students to careers in STEM and entrepreneurship, preparing students for career, college and life success.  This includes aligning the Common Core state standards and other requirements for children in the 6-12th grades.

It offers a number of programs including summer camp for middle school youth, teacher workshops, after school workshops and in school classes. The program is based in Detroit but any school can take advantage of it.  The program is currently ioffered in 6 schools in Detroit.

This past summer was its’ inaugural year and had 44 campers who learned first hand what it’s like to be a tech entrepreneur. Campers age 12-14 learned how to design, develop and pitch a mobile app.  HFLI brought together the mentors to work with the campers to create a fun, hands-on learning experience.

The Ford STEAM Lab is based at the new FRECD2 at the Fisher Upper Magnet School in Detroit.  For more on the program, visit or

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