Lauriston added a FabLearn Lab (or 'FabLab' as it’s known around the school) to its science faculty in 2014. It was a natural step in the development of the School’s modern curriculum and allows open-source technology, digital fabrication, and programming to be taught to our students.
The FabLearn Lab is backed by a wonderful American initiative that was pioneered at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education, where it continues to evolve and grow. Lauriston is part of the Stanford FabLearn network which shares research, new ideas and trains teachers to incorporate digital learning opportunities into their weekly routines.
Lauriston’s FabLearn Lab is an open space, with 3D printers, soldering irons, a laser cutter and power tools. There are no individual chairs and tables but rather a collaborative setting where girls can discuss their engineering projects and design challenges. While the impetus for the FabLearn Lab was to encourage our female students to delve deeper into STEM, the space has merged into a cross-disciplinary classroom. All teachers at Lauriston use the FabLab to encourage students from Prep to Year 12 to make, enhance their computer literacy and solve problems.
There are many interesting projects always on the go in the ‘FabLab’. Students in Year 1 spent all of Term 3 planning and designing their bespoke fairy houses and will go back in the coming weeks to assemble all the parts they have created.
The Year 10 STEM elective has a semester to consider sustainable housing and to develop new ways to design a model to reap the benefits of natural heating and cooling. The Year 12 Visual Communication students have used the tools in the FabLab to make models of their new business ventures, housing developments, product and furniture designs.
The Principal, Susan Just, had the foresight to create Lauriston’s FabLab because she understands the power of hands-on learning and the need for girls to be confident with technology.
‘All of our graduates will encounter a more diverse and more competitive workforce. If we can equip our students with interdisciplinary skills across STEM and the arts, they will have the right foundations to make their own opportunities, be capable of innovation and be agile across careers.’ says Ms Just.
Part of being in the Stanford network means Lauriston must benchmark its performance with the rest of the participants and learn new ways of teaching and incorporating fabrication in the classroom. We organise a FabLearn conference each year with the intention of developing a local network of digital fabrication educators. At FabLearn Australia in May the focus was on developing design thinking in the classroom.