Tomorrow is a PD day for the whole school and I am visiting a Fablab in Kamakura, Japan. I am so excited that I will be spending some time in one of these labs.
What is Fablab?
Fablab stands for the Fabrication and Laboratory. It is basically a small workshop where people can go and create things.
It was founded in MIT (Massachussets Institute of Technology) by Neil Gershenfeld, the Director of Center of Bits and Atoms in MIT. The center investigates the interface between computer science and physical science. Fablabs equipped with various technologies and expertise allows anyone to make (almost) anything -also a popular class at MIT (MAS.863) offered in the fall semesters-
For more of a deeper understanding on Fablabs, I would recommend watching the TED Talk by Neil Gershenfeld.
The lab I am going to visit is in Kamakura, a former capital to Japan , now the home for many artists and craftsman. It is called Fablab Kamakura.
The reason why I am visiting this lab is to build a bridge between our school (YIS) and the community around it. To be honest, when our administrators came with the idea of teachers finding connections with the community around us and our curriculum, I was challenged. The Elementary School Technology Coach physically gong out of the school doors and looking for connections in the real world…
As a part of my job, being the bridge between the communities around us and our Elementary Classrooms digitally, using social networking and web2.0 tools, this time I was asked to take the curriculum in my hands, go out and physically find out resources and connections. Ta taa!
The first thing that came into my mind was the exploration of infographics that surround us in our daily lives. I thought of going out on the streets and explore the various technologies that lead us everyday in our daily routines without us paying much attention and accepting them as if they were a part of our lives since the beginning of the universe. A quick bouquet of examples can be the mostly seen (especially in Japan) digital boards that give us messages anywhere we go – like the train schedule on the platform, a big digital clock on top of a ferris wheel or an escalator that tells you to be careful when you are stepping in. photo by d’n’c
I still find the idea worth visiting in terms of finding connections to our PYP units, but gave up on it quickly when I found a long forgotten magazine article I’ve torn from an airline magazine that was published in last spring. The article was about the Fablab in Kamakura, a nice detailed review of what it was all about.
Yes I did it!, I did tear that page out of that magazine because at the time I was working on a Maths Project on 3D shapes with G5B with Kristen Blum (@Namastececi). We were experiencing the shapes and space through making a box that would carry a teapot in it, protecting it from any kind of force that would break into pieces. (Please have a look at the reflection of this project on their class blog entry. / another reflection of the project by the teapot package recipient Craig Betcher. )
Throughout the project students used Google Sketchup for their sketches. Another software that we were thinking about integrating was the FabLab ModelMaker, a software allows you to design 3D shapes and with the help of a digital cutter helps you to print, cut and fold/make/ turn the 2D shape you’ve designed on your computer screen into a real life 3D object. How cool is that?
During the project we ran out of time and couldn’t integrate it in last year. But this year with a bit of ahead planning and good infrastructure we are aiming to use it. A part of this process, engaging with a Fablab, maybe visiting and printing our final products there or even having the Fablab experts in our classes to work with us would be an amazing experience.
Tomorrow morning will be my first step to engage this Math unit with our local community.