(Scott Shaw / The Plain Dealer)

(Scott Shaw / The Plain Dealer)

“A Fab Lab is a technical prototyping platform for innovation and invention, providing stimulus for local entrepreneurship. A Fab Lab is also a platform for learning and innovation: a place to play, to create, to learn, to mentor, to invent. To be a Fab Lab means connecting to a global community of learners, educators, technologists, researchers, makers and innovators- -a knowledge sharing network that spans 30 countries and 24 time zones. Because all Fab Labs share common tools and processes, the program is building a global network, a distributed laboratory for research and invention.” – From Fab Foundation at MIT

Over the past decade, universities have been busy creating centers of innovation and entrepreneurship — and now the trend is arriving at secondary schools across the globe. Standford University created FabLab@School which includes teacher training and support of integration into school curriculum.

Sample projects students have started:

  • A container that would keep contents cold without electricity to transport malaria vaccines around Africa
  • Rubber band-powered paddleboats
  • A “flipped” chair that can rock or remain stationary and doesn’t require screws, nails or glue

According to MIT, there is a set of requirements that a lab must contain in order to be considered a “fab lab”.  There is also an ethos of openness and sharing.

We support this trend and hope more universities and organizations will partner with primary and secondary schools so we can realistically afford them. Fab Labs align well with Stage 4 of our Framework: Disciplinary Thinking — where students behave more like practitioners in the field rather than passive recipients of the work of those experts. And something like a Fab Lab might be essential to realize our vision of Stage 5: Students as World Changers. Does your school have something like this in its future plans? Let us know.

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