It’s not unusual to see a bright blue shipping container traveling around the streets of Washington, DC, but this Saturday the Drop Anywhere Lab operated by nonprofit Learning Undefeated was on the road for a different purpose: as a pop-up testing site for COVID-19.
At a community health event sponsored by United Healthcare last Saturday, medical technicians from FiveMedicine offered free nasal swab tests to members of the local community outside the Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church in Southeast DC. While nearly 2,000 boxes of food and nonperishables were distributed, touch-screen technology inside the Drop Anywhere Lab usually used to teach K-12 students about careers in STEM rolled video content about the COVID-19 vaccine. Giant accordion doors on each end of the lab created an open, welcoming space and facilitated airflow. HIV testing was also available from Mary’s Center.
“Our organization is deeply committed to equity, and many of the communities that we normally serve have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic,” said Brian Gaines, CEO of Learning Undefeated. “At Learning Undefeated, we have a culture of innovation, and in the current crisis all organizations need to think about how they can contribute. It is a logical extension of our mission to leverage our mobile laboratories to make a difference for our students and their families.”
Normally used to provide STEM education for K-12 students, Learning Undefeated’s Drop Anywhere Labs are custom-built shipping containers that travel from school to school, bringing laboratory-grade equipment and new STEM learning concepts to students in underserved areas. Each container is a self-sufficient mobile laboratory with onboard power, HVAC, and refrigeration; professional, laboratory grade surfaces; and space and power to add additional refrigeration or freezers. The compact framework is easily deployed to urban environments.
The Drop Anywhere Labs are one of four types of mobile STEM labs operated by the Maryland-based nonprofit organization. Since the COVID-19 pandemic caused many school districts to convert to online education in March, the Drop Anywhere Lab has been unable to visit local schools. In that time, the organization has developed distance learning activities and at-home science kits used by over 70,000 students and teachers nationwide.
Learning Undefeated’s mobile labs are available for community-based public health, learn more at: https://www.learningundefeated.org/covid/