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Noddin Elementary Participates in NextFlex FlexFactor® Sprint

Recently, NextFlex had the opportunity to host 115 fourth grade students from Noddin Elementary School (Union School District) for a full-day FlexFactor Sprint. FlexFactor is a project-based learning program during which students are introduced to flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) after which they research a problem area, conceptualize an advanced hardware device, create a business model, and give a final pitch presentation to a panel of judges. This program typically takes place over the course of 6-8 weeks for high school students. To be adaptive to the needs of younger students, the FlexFactor Sprint allows students to experience the program over the course of a one-day field trip.

The four classes of fourth graders started the morning with a welcome and introduction by Ally Freitas, EWD Customer Success Associate, and Eliana Schoenberg, EWD Business Operations Associate. Next, the students watched an FHE video overview and then got to learn about the NextFlex Technology Hub (or Fab) from the people who know the most about it: the NextFlex engineers. Direct engagement with technology and firsthand experience with potential career paths are hallmarks of the FlexFactor program.

Before starting their design projects, students took a window tour of the Fab, led by Dr. Art Wall, Director of Fab Operations, and Fabian Schnegg, Fab Manufacturing Manager. They even saw some final products at the demonstration tables. Through this experience, they were able to observe the fabrication process and learn a little about the techniques and equipment used in the Fab. Secondly, the students sat and talked with Brian Lowe, Engineering Manager – Robotics and Structural Electronics, Jackson Rambough, FHE Design and Process Engineer, and Matthew Hung, Mechanical Engineer. Students were interested to learn about what the engineers had wanted to do when they themselves were in fourth grade, their favorite creations, and their biggest failures, among others.

With 28 total student groups, there was an abundance of great ideas from a plethora of problem areas. Some ideas included: a robot fish that swims through the ocean collecting trash that would be harmful for marine life; a sweat band for athletes to wear to give them a warning if they are in danger of dehydration; a chip to go into your pet that would not only tell you track their location but would also be able to detect if they are sick or injured; and a recycling/garbage bin that uses sensors to sort trash that is thrown away.

“The program itself was fun, quick, insightful, creative – basically everything we would want in a field trip. The kids really enjoyed themselves and it was such a pleasure to experience them in such a unique environment.” Emma Polden, fourth grade teacher, Noddin Elementary School.

The NextFlex Team is honored to have welcomed Ms. Polden and the Noddin Elementary fourth graders to the NextFlex offices and to have had them participate in the FlexFactor Sprint. Through the extended FlexFactor program, students of all ages work in teams to engage with their peers through hands-on learning, developing a deeper appreciation for the importance of teamwork, problem-solving, and creativity while also gaining an understanding of the engineering design process and how flexible hybrid electronics is changing the way we live, work, and play.

NextFlex is committed to continuing to engage and inspire the next generation of innovators by promoting awareness and understanding of advanced manufacturing and emerging technology through the FlexFactor program. To learn more about FlexFactor or how to open your facility to student tours, please contact