Educator brings shop culture back into schools with digital ‘fablab’

Educator brings shop culture back into schools with digital ‘fablab’

Stanford : CA : USA | Jan 21, 2012 at 11:11 PM PST
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Interview with Paulo Blikstein

“There ain’t nothin’ fake about these scissors,” says Shakira, a senior at East Palo Alto Academy, holding up shears the length of her forearm.

She is surrounded by 3-D printers, laser and vinyl cutters and a chemical hood for pouring and setting polymers. The drawers in front of her are full of circuitry and sensors, wheels and LEDs. Out of plastic shopping bags and fishing line, she is building a parachute for an egg.

Every Thursday morning, Shakira and her classmates build and experiment in the Transformative Learning Technologies Lab at Stanford University. The lab’s director, Assistant Professor Paulo Blikstein, believes that hands-on activities and powerful machinery will prove a more engaging window into traditional academic material.

The weekly visit to the lab is part of the charter school’s new physics curriculum.

At 6 feet, Blikstein towers over most of the students. He is a fair-skinned, clear-eyed Brazilian in a pastel polo, sailing through a room teeming with urban youth in dark, over-sized clothing. He hangs over their shoulders and peeks in on their projects, asking questions and offering suggestions. Continue Reading>>

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Paulo Blikstein, Stanford professor is working to install digital fabrication laboratories, or fablabs, in local primary and secondary schools. These labs are to include machines like 3-d printers, lazer cutters, 3-d scanners etcetera. Following the decline of high school woodshop, Blikstein's fablab@school project might herald a renaissance in hands-on education of science and engineering.
Roseann Cima is based in Fairfield, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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  • 3-D printers are a staple in digital fabrication labs. By layering dust and glue according to a specified pattern, they can generate objects with moving parts, like gears, chains and ballbearings. (Photo: Roseann Cima/Peninsula Press)

    3-D prints

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