World’s first Bio Animakerspace is created at Fontana High School

students work on animatronic

By RUSSELL INGOLD Apr 25, 2022

History was made on April 25 at Fontana High School, where a ceremony was held to celebrate the world’s first Bio Animakerspace.

The high-tech lab provides students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and skills that prepare them for success in biomedical, biomechanical and biotechnological careers.

“I’m excited, the students are excited, and we’re so lucky to have this at our school, ” said Fohi Principal Ofelia Hinojosa.

Created through a partnership with Garner Holt Education Through Imagination, the Bio Animakerspace establishes an environment where students can explore how medical science, engineering, robotics, manufacturing and automation can work together to create solutions to medical and public health challenges, the Fontana Unified School District said.

“The students see the connection between math, science, and technology and see the real-world application of these study areas,” Hinojosa said.

Attending the momentous event was Garner Holt, the renowned animatronics maker, who said he is looking forward to the “amazing things” that will be done at Fohi through this program.

“This is important to me because I grew up around here,” said Holt, who lived in the San Bernardino-Redlands area but also spent some time in Fontana and Colton in his younger days.

The Bio Animakerspace supports Fohi’s Health Science and Medical Technology pathway, which includes courses in Bio Animatronics and Neuro Prosthetics. The space fully opened when students returned for full-time, in-person learning during the 2021-22 school year.

About 60 students are involved in the program now, but Neuro Prosthetics Instructor Tyler Bisbee said he expects many more to sign up during the next school year.

Fohi students can use state-of-the-art tools and resources in the Bio Animakerspace, which include engineering machines, laser cutters and 3D printers, to design, prototype and iterate anything they imagine — from artificial limbs to animatronic animals, the FUSD said.

Right now the students are in the final stages of creating a bird animatronic project, Bisbee said.

“The students will be able to take these skills and use them in so many different jobs, in addition to the medical field,” he said.

Bisbee, who has a healthcare background, having worked previously in an emergency room, said at first he wasn’t sure about taking the job at Fohi.

“But they brought me to the classroom and it blew my mind, and I knew this was where I wanted to be,” he said. “It’s just a fantastic environment and the kids love it. They love coming to class and working with all these different technologies.”