I started visiting existing spaces and talking to people.
My first trip was to Western Reserve Academy in Hudson and Matthew Gerber. They have an awesome space and he has some tremendous credentials/equipment certifications. They received an endowment to retrofit part of an existing building and created a space kids just want to hang out in. The space shows excellent planning and thinking. There is an entryway with some nice chairs and end tables, a couple of high rounds with tall chairs, very high ceilings with natural light and a TV panel wall. The short hall leading to the door has a giant size “lite brite”. Touch a dial and it turns on, spin it and it changes color. Great piece to get kids in a creative mode.
They have 3 nice size rooms.
One has a set of desktops with dual monitors that can be rotated. This room also has some whiteboard tables, garment printer, vinyl cutters, PCB prototyping mill, and various electronics.
The middle room has some awesome lab tables with great built in storage. There are also 3D printers in this room as well as a sewing machine, epilog laser engraver, some little bits, and lots of storage. The third room is a wood shop with all the tools you would expect, including cnc routers.
There was a biology/cancer class using the lab table room and lasers to make cardboard mazes for their mice. There are some dedicated classes in the space. All Freshmen are required to take “Learn to Make” and “Learn to Code”. One interesting project that Matt mentioned was upper students making their own Arduinos. About 50% of the teachers have used the space. Almost 80% of the students have used it at one time or another. There are open lab hours for students , and teachers, to come work on projects.
I went to see the Cleveland Mobile FabLab and Sarah Wallace.
It is a trailer that Sarah pulls from school to school. She was using an Epilog laser to cut out birdhouse pieces for the next days workshop. So the Lab has lasers, vinyl cutter, 3D printers, CNC router, various hand tools, and craft supplies.
There is not a lot of space to move around with all that in the trailer. I forgot to ask how many people she tends to have in the trailer, but it cannot be many .
She has a list of upgrades that she is working on. That is the thing with a space, as you use it you adapt and develop it. The FabLab is owned by the District, which is different than some places where the Educational Service Center is the owner. There is only 1 lab and 1 person and 105 schools. We talked about many things in the maker & FabLab realm.
Went to check out the new Brady Middle School FabLab. It is a small space, but very bright and organized. There are no classes in the lab. They want it to be an integrated thing where teachers and students come use it for project based learning. The have 3D printers, laser engravers, vinyl cutters, sewing machines, a small and a large cnc router, some electronics and RaspberryPi starter kits. Something that they remembered to make the cnc work easier was the ancillary tools needed like band saw, scroll saw and sander. I went during an evening Open House and the kids were very excited and using all of the tools available.