STEMvan™ Unveils Patent Pending STEMvan Safety System™ for 3D Printing in Preparing to Drive Mobile STEM Interactive Learning

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A new, state-of-the-art STEMvan™ is preparing to hit the road, driving Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) experiential learning to area schools, camps and home school programs. Unlike any other mobile learning experience, STEMvan incorporates hands-on 3D printing and a patent-pending STEMvan Safety System™. Parents, school districts and communities seeking broader STEM education experiences for children in grades 3-8 will find it in STEMvan. A cooperative offer under TCO Toolkit, LLC and Nixon & Company Consulting Group, STEMvan is a partnership of two Carolinas-based entrepreneurial experts in additive manufacturing and informal STEM Education. The need for more STEM education is noted as a “Big Problem” by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United States is considered lagging many developed countries in STEM education. STEMvan seeks to change that for the Carolinas with its mission to drive "STEM for all." The company’s future plans include actively recruiting substitute teachers and Makers in the Carolinas and offering a franchise model.

“What we learned from firsthand market research is that in many cases...for kids to get to actually hands on run the machine. It’s like winning the Golden Ticket,” said Joe. “that really hit me. I knew there must be a better way...It shouldn’t be about STEM for some. It should be STEM for all!”

Introducing STEMvan™: Not just STEM for Some, but STEM for All

In Rock Hill, South Carolina, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education isn’t the future. It’s what makes Rock Hill rock, today! In a city with more 3D printing experts per capita than anywhere in the country, STEM is already what Mom or Dad do on the job every day — and it’s what they expect for their kids’ future, too.

A new, state-of-the-art STEMvan™ is ready to hit the road, driving STEM-focused experiential learning modules to area schools, camps and homeschool programs. Unlike any other mobile learning experience, STEMvan incorporates hands-on 3D printing with a patent-pending STEMvan Safety System, and other highly-interactive, grades 3-8 appropriate STEM activities.

Joe Razum, founder of TCO Toolkit LLC, recognized this educational need when the gap in access to 3D printers in regional elementary schools became clear. Razum’s expertise in additive manufacturing and large-scale 3D printing integration for Fortune 500 companies is a definite plus for STEMvan’s emergent technology programming.

“What we learned from first-hand market research is that in many cases, the teacher picks one student, or the schools handpick ‘the chosen few,’ to actually run the machine. It’s like winning the Golden Ticket. Most of the kids don’t get any hands-on opportunity,” said Razum. “That really hit me. I knew there must be a better way for all kids to have equal opportunity to experience technology-driven, hands-on problem solving. It shouldn’t be about STEM for some. It should be STEM for all!”

Razum reached out to Kellen Nixon, Principal of Nixon & Company Consulting Group. Nixon has 15 years of experience developing informal STEM education offerings for some of the country’s top science centers, including his most recent role of Senior Director of STEM Education at Charlotte’s Discovery Place. He also served as the Director of Discovery’s Place’s Education Studio at Bank of America’s STEM Center for Career Development, training nearly 20,000 K-12 Educators on emergent technology such as 3D Printing/Design during his tenure.

“We know that young learners, particularly girls, are often lost forever if they haven’t become comfortable with science concepts by the 3rd grade. 3rd and 4th grade is really the sweet spot on their path to understanding and enjoying science,” said Nixon. “The STEMvan will meet students, as well as their families in the communities they call home and expose them to the educational and professional possibilities associated with these cutting-edge technologies!”

STEMvan became the logical outcome of Nixon’s knowledge of best practice models and experience with school and museum-based learning, and Razum’s expertise in additive manufacturing, 3D Printing, Hackathons and Internet of Things (IoT).

STEMvan’s multi-dimensional educational program uniquely includes 3D printing modules where every participant can make a dimensional product. Each of STEMvan’s vetted and engaging STEM learning modules match State standards, offering a measured and proven approach to improving related State test scores. The scalable modules provide school systems with outsourced access to Level 1 (Exploratory), and Level 2 (Introduction) of the industry-recognized STEM Immersion Guides for Schools and Districts. Current STEMvan module subjects include magnetism, math and chemistry, among others.

Cognizant of the challenge of moving and safely operating a 3D printer, Razum designed a one-of-a-kind lock and carry case, which itself is 3D-printed. The patent-pending STEMVan Safety System, employs industrial style Lock-Out, Tag-Out principles, and is just another example of how the STEMvan team has thought through the sourcing, safety and interactivity of the experience.

The need for more STEM education is noted as a “Big Problem” by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United States is considered lagging many developed countries in STEM education. STEMvan seeks to change that for the Carolinas with its mission to drive "STEM for all." The company’s future plans include actively recruiting substitute teachers and Makers in the Carolinas and offering a franchise model.

The prototype STEMvan Safety System will be unveiled at the “Innovation by Making Things” event taking place Tuesday, February 12th in Rock Hill, SC. Free registration is available on EventBrite™.

About STEMvan™
STEMvan, a TCO Toolkit, LLC company, was founded when experts in STEM and 3D
Printing developed a mission to drive "STEM for all." Company leadership hails from leading children's museums and 3D printing OEMs. Learn more by visiting http://www.stemvan.com.

About TCO Toolkit, LLC
TCO Toolkit™ helps organizations make better asset decisions via Total Cost of
Ownership (TCO) calculators. The company’s adaptable Software as a Service (SaaS) tools assist B2B and Public Sector sourcing professionals. TCO Toolkit is the first SaaS self-certified to the new APPA / ANSI TCO Standard. With an in-depth background in and demand for its 3D printing services, TCO Toolkit operates two companies, STEMvan and JoeAdditive (d.b.a.'s) under the umbrella of TCO Toolkit, LLC. JoeAdditive is an Independent B2B advisory extension of the company’s focus on making additive manufacturing accessible for the “Average Joe.” Learn more at http://www.joeadditive.com. TCO Toolkit is a client member of the Rock Hill Technology Incubator at Knowledge Park and the SCRA South Carolina Launch, State of SC incubator networks. Learn more by visiting http://www.tcotoolkit.com.

About Nixon & Company Consulting Group
With its mission to provide innovative solutions to the non-profit and K-12 education sectors that promote a stronger sense of community and organizational purpose, Nixon & Company is committed to building mutually-beneficial relationships that offer innovative tactics focused on building stronger Communities of Practice around the way we ALL live, work and play. Learn more at http://www.nixonand.co

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Joe Razum
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