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Fontana Unified Celebrates Grand Opening of World’s First Bio Animakerspace, Showcases Student Achievement

FONTANA, CA – Wielding a set of bolt cutters and cheered on by District officials and community members, Fontana High School senior Miranda Ordoñez cut through a chain stretched across the hallway in Fontana High’s E building, marking the grand opening of the world’s first Bio Animakerspace on April 25.

Housed at Fontana High School (FOHI) and created through a partnership with Garner Holt Education Through Imagination, the Bio Animakerspace provides an environment where students can explore how medical science, engineering, robotics, manufacturing and automation work together to create solutions to medical and public health challenges.

The space features state-of-the-art tools and resources – including engineering machines, laser cutters and 3D printers – which students can use to design, prototype and iterate anything they imagine.

“Today we are proud to show you a classroom of the future, a special place where creativity, design and experimental learning are leading our Steelers to better the human condition for the future,” FOHI Principal Ofelia Hinojosa said to attendees. “We are honored to show off this amazing space and the extraordinary work that our Steelers are already doing in the Bio Animakerspace.”

The ceremony also included remarks from Superintendent Randal Bassett, Ryan Rainboldt, President of Garner Holt Education Through Imagination, and Garner Holt, the founder of the animatronics firm Garner Holt Productions. Bassett recounted how the Bio Animakerspace came to fruition after the District challenged its schools to come up with moonshots – long-range goals to propel Fontana Unified into the future and foster innovation in education – nearly five years ago.

“In Fontana, we know that in order to build a future for our students where they can have an impact, there is a gap that needs to be bridged, and in order to bridge that gap, we need to reexamine what we do every single day,” Bassett said. “Fontana High School took on that challenge, and this is one of their moonshots. I want to congratulate them on something that is unique and will continue to grow and inspire our students.”

Following the ceremonial cutting of the chain, attendees toured the Bio Animakerspace and received demonstrations from students, who showcased the steps involved in their recent project: building animatronic birds.

Attendees observed with interest as students used 3D printers to create the heads of their birds, operated a laser cutter to create the wooden pieces for the bird’s body, showcased their creativity in decorating the birds to look lifelike, and demonstrated the coding skills used to make the birds move their beaks and tails, puff their chests, and rotate and nod their heads.

“I am really grateful for this program and insisted on being in this class, because it was an experience I wanted to be a part of before I graduate,” said Ordoñez, who plans to study mechatronics at California State University, Chico in the fall. “One of my favorite skills I learned this year was the laser cutting, because I learned how to create my own designs and figurines, which I was able to turn into presents for my family. The skills we’re learning have so many applications, and I find that exciting.”

The Bio Animakerspace, which fully opened when students returned for 2021-22 school year, supports FOHI’s Health Science and Medical Technology pathway, which includes courses in Bio Animatronics and Neuro Prosthetics. FOHI will also open a lab in fall 2022 that provides dedicated space for its Neuro Prosthetics courses.