A recurrent theme on this blog is advocating learning by doing in the 21st century, and I argue that we should be seizing the opportunities new technologies present to facilitate our students in shifting their focus from consumption to creation, from receiving information to producing knowledge and applying it to become themselves active innovators.
We have been working throughout our curriculum to promote this idea– see the way that our AP Gov’t class has written their own textbooks or created their own political campaigns complete with TV ads and websites as examples. Our Design Built Tech Innovation class, often celebrated here on the blog, is a highlight of our efforts in this direction.
In the TED talk above, MIT Professor Neil Gershenfeld explains that we need in our schools a “Fab Lab — a low-cost lab that lets people build things they need using digital and analog tools. It’s a simple idea with powerful results.”
We’ve won the digital revolution; let’s look after the digital revolution to what comes next.
I’ve never understood the boundary between computer science and physical science… Computer science is one of the worst things ever to happen either to computers or science.
I started a new class, How To Make Almost Anything. Students were not there [in this class] to do research, they were there because they wanted to make stuff.
Just year after year — and I finally realized the students were showing the killer app of personal fabrication is products for a market of one person. You don’t need this for what you can get in Wal-Mart; you need this for what makes you unique.
[paraphrase] When we opened FabLabs, we found a pattern: Empowerment begins, and then Education follows, serious, hands on education, Problem-Solving follows, and in turn Businesses grow around this problem-solving, and eventually there is Invention: real invention happening in these labs.
So, we’re just at the edge of this digital revolution in fabrication, where the output of computation programs the physical world. So, together, these two projects answer questions I hadn’t asked carefully. The class at MIT shows the killer app for personal fabrication in the developed world is technology for a market of one: personal expression in technology that touches a passion unlike anything I’ve seen in technology for a very long time. And the killer app for the rest of the planet is the instrumentation and the fabrication divide: people locally developing solutions to local problems.
With this as inspiration, we at St. Gregory are pushing ahead to develop further our own version “Fab Lab” in Dennis Conner’s Physics classroom. Already it is an astounding place, filled with terrific tools and resources for construction, measurement, and analysis. Students are building solar energy stations, trebuchet catapults, and much, much more in this FabLab. But we are not done: there is more to do.