Press Release Award-Winning Groovy Lab in a Box STEM Projects to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt’s Mobile Makerspace

August 27, 2015


Academics in a Box Donates Its Award-Winning Groovy Lab in a Box STEM Projects to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt’s Mobile Makerspace

Nashville, TN…

When Elaine Hansen, president of Academics in a Box (Anaheim, CA), first learned about the mobile Makerspace Pilot Program at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt (Nashville, TN), she knew their Groovy Lab in a Box (

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) projects would be a super addition. As scientists, educators and parents, they understand the importance of engaging and motivating children to use their imagination, determination and inquisitive nature to learn; a mission it shares with the hospital. For children at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital, many of whom have acute and chronic medical conditions which confine them to the hospital for lengthy periods, bringing a fun, hands-on learning experience to them was exactly what the doctor…and teacher ordered. So, that’s exactly what Hansen did. They donated a supply of their Groovy Lab in a Box STEM projects to be part of the hospital’s Mobile Makerspace, which is the first of its kind in a children’s hospital setting in the nation.

“We are thrilled to be able to bring our Groovy Lab in a Box projects to the children at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt,” said Hansen. “We know they will get real joy and a sense of accomplishment in completing one or more of the unique engineering design challenges they present. These challenges leverage project-based learning and the triangular aspect of long-term memory knowledge so there is a real educational value gained.”

“Our Groovy Lab in a Box contains everything a child needs to complete all of the activities, inquiry experiments, tests and engineering design challenge. Also provided in each box is a 20+ page custom-designed, subject-specific lab notebook which guides the child through the entire engineering design process,” added Hansen. “There is a variety of Groovy Lab in a Box themes from which to choose, such as: “Stitch –A-Circuit,” which investigates electronic devices, circuits, wearable technology and more; “Water Works,” which explores different types of hydroponic systems, seed germination and photosynthesis; “Moon Dance,” which investigates moons, gravity, moon phases, lunar eclipses, craters, tides, lenses and telescopes; “Shake It Up,” which investigates what causes earthquakes and lets children construct a “groovy” seismograph and shake table; “It’s Electric!,” in which children learn how to build a circuit and switch; and “Pull Your Weight,” in which they design and build a crane to be used by astronauts on Mars colony. When doing the projects, children can team up with each other and/or family members, with each participant serving in a specific STEM project role such as speaker, materials manager, timekeeper and recorder. This learning experience, coupled with the social interaction, is ideal for children in a hospital setting, helping them to feel normal and experience learning in the way their healthy peers are in more traditional school or home school settings.”

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt has long been commitment to providing meaningful learning activities within the Hospital. More recently, it piloted a program to reinvent learning giving rise to the design of the mobile Makerspace. Named “Project M@CH” and founded by Gokul Krishnan, a Ph.D., a student in Learning Sciences at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education, this learning cart is equipped with components, tools, accessories and even a 3-D printer — all intended to foster its patients’ learning through their designing, inventing, making and tinkering.

According to Tina Woods, Teacher at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital, “Many patients are interested in Engineering and Science, however, they are restricted from returning to school while undergoing treatment. In the future, we hope to install a full-fledged makerspace in which patients in the Children’s Hospital can use and learn relevant STEM skills.”

She continued, “Our ultimate goal is to improve the educational experience for patients and their families living with chronic illnesses. We believe every child deserves to be educated. Hospitalized patients are dislocated from their homes, families and schools. Many are prohibited from attending school because of their medical illness and/or treatment. Isolation precautions further make it difficult for patients to be with their peers or to collaborate with others. We can assist these patients by offering additional educational support, both to keep them from falling behind and help them feel relevant and connected to their world. They will return to their local schools with an understanding of skills very few others will have. They will be able to share their knowledge with others and hopefully, make the transition back into their local schools smoother and less stressful.”

Based on the reviews from children, parents, teachers and insiders covering STEM educational products, the Groovy Lab in a Box STEM projects should be well-received by the patients at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. The recipients of such honors as the “Parent’s Choice Silver Honor,” recognition in Popular Mechanics’ “The 100 Wholesome Holiday Toy Guide,” “coolmomtech’s Holiday Tech Gift Guide 2014,” “Top Pick in the Mothering Natural Toy Guide 2014,” and “Approved by Mr. dad,, Groovy Lab in a Box’s captivating projects, from “It’s Electric! To “Fly with Me” are sure to be a welcome addition to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital’s innovative mobile Makerspace.

Pictured here are at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt with the Mobile Makerspace, stocked with the Groovy Lab in a Box donations are Hospital Teachers Tina Woods and Tisha Coggins.


Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, a freestanding hospital dedicated to serving only children, is nationally recognized as a leading provider of pediatric health care services. Experts treat and work to prevent all health issues ranging from common childhood conditions to serious, advanced diseases. Featuring Centers of Excellence for the treatment of diabetes and congenital heart disorders, Children’s Hospital also operates the region’s only level 1 pediatric trauma unit and a neonatal intensive care unit with the highest designated level of care. In addition, Children’s Hospital is a top-level teaching and research facility. No child is denied care on basis of limited ability to pay.


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