Today’s technology-driven classrooms are vastly different from those of our parents. Text books have been replaced with Chromebooks, classroom designs are flexible and modular and hands-on, project-based learning (PBL) has become the new standard teaching method.
Educators agree that students exposed to PBL tend to be more engaged, have improved attendance and test scores, heightened social and emotional skills and develop essential soft skills which will help them to succeed in a rapidly-changing world.
You needn’t look further that a fab lab for evidence to support this. The modern fab lab is a shared space equipped with digital fabrication tools, hand tools and other resources students and teachers need to take the design process from idea to iteration to a finished, fully-functioning product with real-world applications.
Fab labs are inclusive environments that foster collaboration across multi disciplines. It’s not uncommon to see students from STEM, architecture, art, ELA and even business programs working side by side designing, mentoring and supporting one another. Together students learn that failure is not only acceptable but a necessary and healthy part of the design process – for it’s in these defining “aha” moments that the deepest learning occurs.
Educational technology specialists AET labs of Essex, MA honors the impactful work of the New England STEM community each spring at Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a dual STEM event. Dig it. Fab it. Make it. combines a Fab Lab & Makerspace Expo for educators with the New England Extreme Redesign Student 3D Printing Challenge. Co-sponsored by Stratasys and GrabCAD, this unique showcase features cutting-edge STEM technologies, hands-on learning labs, lively discussion and extraordinary student innovation.
This year’s guests were treated to a stimulating keynote presentation by Skylar Tibbits, inventor of 4D printing, Director of MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab and notable Ted Talk fellow, on the fascinating future and positive impact of 4D printing. We also heard inspiring stories of women and girls making strides in the STEM field using 3D printing from Gina Scala, Stratasys’ Director of Global Marketing for Education.
Once again, the students stole the show with their forward-thinking, innovative redesign projects. Emily Stys from Pentucket Regional High School in West Newbury, MA took top honors for her 3D Printed ACL Dog Brace. Inspired while prospecting Xavier University by its MakerBot Innovation Center and a community canine prosthetic project, Emily was motivated by a desire to help her teacher’s dog Izzy heal from a debilitating ACL injury.
After consulting with veterinarians and orthopedic surgeons Emily took her design ideas to her school’s makerspace and, several iterations later, produced an elegant, cost-effective, fully-functioning brace that allows Izzy pain-free mobility. For her efforts, Emily took home a MakerBot 3D printer for her school, an online STEM scholarship valued at $1000 from Southern New Hampshire University, a slick 3D printed trophy and some serious bragging rights. Congratulations, Emily!
Other big winners include a 3D Printed Electric Guitar designed by Windsor High School, CT student Aura Sofia Cardona and a Makerspace Drone Design by last year’s winning team from Arlington High School in Arlington, MA. Click here for a full recap of the day’s events.
The Extreme Redesign Challenge is a great way to integrate the design process into your classroom. Interested in competing in 2019? Go to the official Extreme Redesign website for contest rules and deadlines.
How will your students reshape the world through design?