A FabLab is a low-cost digital workshop equipped with laser-cutters, routers, 3D scanners, 3D milling machines, and programming tools, where you can "make almost anything." There are over 70 FabLabs around the world, open to local inventors, small businesses, and garage entrepreneurs.The FabLab concept was created by Prof. Neil Gershenfeld at MIT.
Despite the potential impact of FabLabs in education, they are mostly focused on adults, entrepreneurship, and product design. The FabLab@School, created by Prof. Paulo Blikstein at Stanford University in 2009, is a new type of digital fabrication lab especially designed for schools and children, with several special characteristics.
The FabLab@School project has these main components:
- A carefully-designed teacher preparation program, refined over the last few years, and tested in multiple countries and cultures. Also, we developed strategies for full integration with school curricula.
- A set of tens of activities designed for children together with teacher guides, allowing students to engage in cutting-edge scientific investigation and engineering projects.
- Software tools for scientific modeling and simulation, and equipment for sensor-enabled scientific experiments in physics and chemistry.
- Easy to use, age-appropriate robotics and sensing equipment.
- A fully-developed research program, with custom-made impact measures and learning metrics especially designed for digital fabrication and project-based environments.
- A special focus on education and on the connection with the disciplines (sciences, math, engineering)
- Lower cost of implementation and ownership, intensive use of re-purposed and low-cost materials.