FabLab Transforms Student Workshop with Cutting-Edge Tech
A screenshot of small car and ship robots high school students in Moscow built in their school "FabLab," a high-tech building shop. The first U.S. school FabLab opened in Palo Alto, Calif., on March 16.
CREDIT: From "Welcome FabLab@School," video by Lyceum 1502 MEPI students, posted by slbseed on YouTube
It's a shop class for the digital age.
A private school for middle and high school students in Palo Alto, Calif., opened a futuristic workshop equipped with 3D printers, laser cutters, programming tools and other newer technologies on March 16. With the high-tech tools, students at Castilleja School can engineer robots, perform physics and chemistry experiments and work on other projects. The class is a part of a series of so-called FabLabs that Stanford University education professor Paulo Blikstein wants to open at schools around the world. The Palo Alto FabLab is his first in the U.S.
Blikstein opened his first school FabLab in June 2011, in a high school in Moscow called the Lyceum 1502 MPEI, education newsletter EdSurge reported. One of the lyceum's students went on to win third place at a Moscow State University-hosted science fair, for a flute that automatically plays the final movement of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor," according to the website of the Moscow lab's funder, the Schlumberger Corp. The student, Igor Balashov, made the automatic flute using model fingers he cut using a laser cutter, hooked up to a programmable device called a GoGoBoard.
By giving them the tools to invent things, FabLabs in schools should improve kids' understanding of a high-tech world and change the way they view science, Blikstein said in a talk in 2011. What FabLabs and science education in general should strive for is a certain attitude, he said. "Not looking at technology as something magical, but looking at technology and science as a tool to improve the lives of others."