A group of students at Manual Academy in Peoria are a part of something special.

“I code the robot, and now I’m over here trying to code a mini jumbo-tron” said sophomore Styles Stuckley.

They’re working in the FUSE interactive learning lab, 1 of 126 schools in the United States and Finland to have such technology. Teacher Greg Gilson won a $26,000 grant that provides them with computer software, interactive challenges and 2 3-D printers. 

 “They start with a basic kind of understanding of what the challenge is asking them to do, and as the levels increase it gets harder and harder so they can learn the skills related to that particular challenge” said teacher Greg Gilson.

“We just take our time- if we don’t like the challenge we can switch it and just get a different one and try that” said Stuckley.

Currently only students in the REAL- or Realizing Everyone’s Academic Level program can use the equipment. REAL help students who are behind on class credits get them back up, and in a normal classroom setting. It lets them learn at their own pace. 

“Before I started this program i don’t I would be able to know how to work something like this, but it teaches you before you actually do it and  you can watch the videos as many times as you please before you actually start the challenge” said sophomore Mercedes Robinson.

“Watching kids kind of just building that confidence it’s- it’s slow and their shoulders kind of raise up a little bit more and you can just see in the eyes of their students” said Gilson.

The skills they’re gaining could also lead to work after graduation. 

“Since I know how to do it, I think it’d be easy for me if I was to take this on as like a full time career or a job or something” said Robison.

Manual plans to offer FUSE as a class in the future. For now, it’s off to a REAL great start.