ERIC Number: EJ999234
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Dec
Reference Count: N/A
Fab Labs: Using Technology to Make (Almost) Anything!
District Administration, v48 n11 p34-37 Dec 2012
Students taking the "How to Make (Almost) Anything" class at Mahtomedi High School in Mahtomedi, Minn. can literally make almost anything--from chess pieces to cups to chairs, and DVD cases to clocks to lampshades--right in their classroom. And besides getting a daily dose of amazement, these students are making history in the first public school district with access to such groundbreaking, hands-on STEM education. With guidance and expertise from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Mahtomedi School District is operating one of the nation's first public school fabrication laboratories, or Fab Labs, joining over 140 operating in universities and businesses worldwide, and hundreds more in the planning stages. The Mahtomedi Fab Lab, which opened in the fall of 2011, is a state-of-the-art design center that allows students to electronically design objects such as chairs, lamps, or even a chocolate mold of a face. Then, they actually produce these objects using groundbreaking 3D printers, which take the virtual designs and lay down material such as liquid, powder, or metal layer by layer to build a real-life model within hours. The Mahtomedi Fab Lab is part of the district's robust, mandatory engineering curriculum, implemented in 2007, that spans from early childhood education through grade 12. The district boasts the state's highest science and math standardized test scores, which Principal Kathe Nickleby attributes to the engineering program. In 2012, the district's proficiency in state science testing was 81 percent (consistently rising from 72 percent since 2008), compared to the state average of 51 percent. In the Mahtomedi district, working in the Fab Lab exposes all students to engineering, problem-solving, and group work skills, even those who may not have had an interest in engineering. The number of How to Make (Almost) Anything classes doubled this school year, from three to six, with about 25 students in each section, and female student enrollment rose from 16 to 36.
Descriptors: Enrollment, Engineering Education, Engineering, Public Schools, School Districts, Job Skills, Laboratories, Technology Uses in Education, Educational Technology, STEM Education, Partnerships in Education, College School Cooperation, High School Students, College Students, Computer Software
Professional Media Group, LLC. 488 Main Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06851. Tel: 203-663-0100; Fax: 203-663-0149; Web site: http://www.districtadministration.com
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools; Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts; Minnesota