I just got back from a tour of Marymount‘s new Fab Lab led by Jaymes Dec (@JaymesDec) and Lesa Wang. (Fab is short for Fabrication) Lesa has been teaching art at Marymount for years, and she says her whole curriculum has changed as a result of having the Fab Lab available to her. Marymount is an all-girls PreK-12 independent school on the Upper East Side. Visiting along with me from The School at Columbia University were Greg Benedis-Grab (science), Gina Marcel (K-2 Technology), Dena Rothstein (5th Grade), and David Waterbury (Tech).
Jaymes learned about technology as a graduate student in the ITP program at NYU Tisch. (ITP = Interactive Telecommunications Program). He has experience teaching afterschool robotics classes at Vision Education. Jaymes helped establish GreenFab in the Bronx, and when their 3-year funded project ended, he happened to be consulting for Marymount to set up their Fab Lab. Currently, he is employed by Marymount working on projects with grades K, 5, 6, 7, 8.
In the Fab Lab are a ridiculous number of printing machines including an Epilog Laser ($30K) and the corresponding filter system. There are also multiple CNC printers including Makerbots and ShopBots. (CNC = Computer Numeric Control) The Shopbot is a 3D milling machine that can drill on 3 axes. This particular unit has a digitizing probe that can act like a 3D scanner so you can scan, modify, and print!
There were awesome examples of student work on the whole 4th floor:
– In the Science room, students were constructing workable prosthetic arms.
– In the Art room, students were redesigning toothbrushes, building their “dream car,” and making models of buildings.
– In the Fab Lab, students were building a variety of functional 3D objects.
Our ultimate ulterior motive for visiting was to see examples of innovation in education and to find a way for our 5th graders and Marymount’s 5th graders to collaborate on a project. Both schools study Ancient Greece, so one possible collaboration may involve The School kids designing temples and outsourcing to Marymount kids for actual printing (and vice versa). Or maybe we even have kids collaborating “long distance” on a design project using GoogleDocs and Skype.