Photos: Kids experiment in FabLabs — spaces in schools designed for project-based STEM learning (via FabLab@School and TEDxManhattanBeach)
Paulo Blikstein is head of the FabLab@School program, an extension of Stanford University’s Transformative Learning Technologies Lab. FabLab@School aims to install “low-cost digital workshop[s] equipped with laser-cutters, routers, 3D scanners, 3D milling machines, and programming tools” specially-designed for children in schools across the world, so that children will be able to learn by doing, not just hearing.
At TEDxManhattanBeach, Paulo spoke about the project, and the importance of DIY in education. From his talk, “A school for makers”:
In a world where we are surrounded by technology — technology shapes the world around us — [most of our students] know nothing about how those things work.
We dissemble something — we don’t know what’s inside. We look around — we don’t know how things work. It’s all magical. And it’s amazing that school is not doing more to teach us about how to understand science, how to understand technology, how to understand what’s around us.
…You can’t teach sports unless you have a gym. And it’s the same idea for the 21st-century skills we want to teach kids: innovation, creativity, critical thinking, deep understanding of science and technology. If you don’t have a place to teach these skills, you can’t really do a good job.
[So we build labs with] 3D printers, laser cutters, robotics, science equipment, sensors, all sorts of construction and science materials for kids to build projects, build inventions…
[A student] spent six months [in one of our labs] building [an invention of her own design.] Here, I don’t want to talk much about the technological skills that she acquired, but how this changed the way she looked at the world — not looking at technology as something magical, but looking at technology and science as a tool to improve the lives of others.
For more information on FabLabs and STEM education, watch Paulo’s entire talk below: