Education News

School Districts: Birchwood - Northwood - Shell Lake - Spooner


Fab Lab Grants Awarded to Birchwood & Northwood School Districts! 

Birchwood School Awarded $25K Toward State-of-the-Art "Fab Lab"

The School District of Birchwood has been approved for a Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Fabrication Laboratories grant of up to $25,000 to help purchase equipment related to development of their new fab lab.

Technology teacher Brian Jerry, with the help of Business Education teacher Sara Waldron, has been hard-at-work in the last year planning the expansion of Birchwood's Tech Ed program, with a new Fab Lab at the heart of it all.  Already purchased for the Lab are a 3D Printer and a CNC Plasma Cutter. This innovative initiative in the district is indicative of strategies often used to maximize student options, student engagement, and community connections.  

Fab Labs have been cropping up worldwide and are already active in a handful of schools in northern Wisconsin.  One benefit of this type of setup is its universal usability - the equipment used in a Fab Lab is consistent with other fab labs across the globe. With a focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math), "...the Fab Lab is a technical prototyping platform for innovation and invention, providing stimulus for local entrepreneurship. A Fab Lab is also a platform for learning and innovation: a place to play, to create, to learn, to mentor, to invent"  (“What is a Fab Lab” Fab Lab Foundation, 2015 Web 17 Dec. 2015). Collaboration with Math and Science is top priority in the world of education today, and Fab Labs bring both to the forefront.  

Another benefit of this type of lab is its appeal spanning a huge age range. Jerry already has curriculum ready to bring this STEAM initiative to elementary students, as well as continuing to expose students in middle and high school who are already somewhat acquainted with the concept. To date, students in Jerry's classes have completed several creative and useful projects, from simple things like keychains and placards, to a fully automated mechanical hand, created with the help of online software and the 3D printer. The $51.00 prosthetic project was the brainchild of Birchwood student Cheyenne Okey. Upon its completion, Okey donated the mechanical hand to the e-NABLE Organization, who will send the hand to someone who needs it at no cost - something remarkable in today's expensive world of medicine.

With future planning and efforts, Jerry envisions a Lab open to not only the district, but the community as well, offering useful tools, equipment and learning experiences not often available in rural Wisconsin.  

Pictured are Birchwood Student Cheyenne Okey and Tech Ed teacher Brian Jerry.  The bottom picture shows her mechanical hand prosthetic.






May 2, 2016

Contact: Benjamin Sorensen, 715-466-2297


Northwood School District Receives Grant for Fab Lab Equipment


Minong, Wisconsin – Thanks to the 2015-17 biennial budget investment in the Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Labs) Program, Northwood School District has the ability to fund new fabrication laboratory facilities, which will bring Wisconsin students into the 21st Century’s global economy. Northwood School District was awarded a grant of $24,216 to create a Fab Lab.


“Guaranteeing our students have the skills necessary to compete in our rapidly-growing, technology-driven world is critical to our economy,” Governor Walker said. “Fab Labs provide hands-on learning to the next generation of workers to provide our students with the skills they need to obtain good-paying jobs. This ensures everyone who wants a job in Wisconsin can find a job.”


In the 2015-17 biennial budget, the Fab Labs Program was implemented, making $500,000 available to school districts through WEDC (Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation). In response to an overwhelming number of applications, WEDC was able to leverage the flexibility of its program funding to move an additional $101,000 to the initiative, allowing awards for 25 school districts, including Northwood School District.


WEDC’s Fab Labs Program requires matching funds from each school district and is designed to prepare students for manufacturing jobs in the future. WEDC recently announced the statewide recipients of its Fab Lab funding to support the purchase of Fab Lab equipment for instructional and educational purposes by elementary, middle, junior, or high school students.


“Northwood is very thankful and proud to be a recipient of the Fab Lab Grant sponsored by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.  When the application was first released, Benjamin Sorensen, our Technology Education teacher, exclaimed, "This is just the direction we are heading; we need to apply!"  He took the lead and involved other key staff in writing the grant.  While we are so happy for those who invested the time and effort in writing the successful grant, we are even more excited about how it will assist and advance our awesome students and supportive community members.  It will help everyone dream with determination - to use their problem-solving skills to address a need, to start a business, to create a gadget, or whatever it leads to.  Northwood's Fab Lab Advisory Board has some lofty goals to achieve and looks forward to doing so.  We plan to have the Fab Lab certified before school begins in the fall of 2016.”


  • Jean Serum, District Administrator


Fab Lab funding gives Wisconsin students hands-on experience, allowing them to put into practice concepts they have learned in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses.


Fab Labs have the potential to benefit individual students, school districts, and Wisconsin’s economy as a whole. For more information, visit




Northwood School District

N14463 Hwy 53

Minong, WI 54859

(715) 466-2297


About the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing Wisconsin’s business climate. WEDC nurtures business growth and job creation by providing resources, technical support and financial assistance to companies, partners and communities in Wisconsin. WEDC has four focus areas: business and industry development, economic and community development, entrepreneurship and innovation and international business development. Together with more than 600 regional and local business development partners, it represents a highly responsive and coordinated network. Visit or follow WEDC on Twitter @_InWisconsin to learn more.


 Career Days 2016




Career Days 2015

Northwood School District

T&T Tool                                               Spooner Machine                                            WITC


Career Days 2014-2015


                          Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR)                              Wisconsin National Guard



     Community Bank Northwest 


Career Day at Spooner High School


Sponsored by

Washburn County Economic Development Corporation (WCEDC)


Why Career Day

Washburn County Economic Development Corporation organized a Career Day at the four school districts in Washburn County.

Career Days were held at Northwood School District on March 18, 2015, Birchwood School District on March 25, 2015, Spooner School District on April 24, 20i5, and Shell Lake School District on May 6, 2015.

The event allowed students to interact with businesses within Washburn County to learn about what businesses do within Washburn County, what types of jobs and careers might be available in the future, what skills are high demand areas of emloyment, and what types of additional education requirements are needed and where to get that education. Threre were a total of 16 businesses including WITC and UW-Barron that attended at least one of the career days with some attending all four. The event was a great opportunity for students to learn about large employers within Washburn County and to explore career paths for their future.



Thank You

To the business participants for their support of education and commitment to

"Growing A Better Washburn County"


Auora Community Services

Birchwood Best

Birchwood Fire Department / EMT

Community Bank of Northern Wisconsin

Quality Tool Service, Inc

Schmitz's Economart

Shell Lake School Systems Officiating

Spooner Health Systems

Spooner Machine, Inc

T&T Tool, Inc

The Potter's Shed

University of Wisconsin - Barron County

University of Wisconsin - Extension Agricultural 

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College

Wisconsin Army National Guard


208 Vine Street Spooner WI

  (715) 635-8242