Last spring a couple of the teachers at Delta High School started brainstorming about a place where the school’s growing collection of digital maker tools could be kept and used by as many teachers and students as possible. As a result, the Far North Fab Lab idea was born. Since then the idea has grown into a place where students and community members alike can come to design and make things.
The old welding shop in the district office building had been underutilized for several years since the majority of CTE classes were moved into the Career Advancement Center across the parking lot. Last summer, with quite a lot of elbow grease exerted by several staff members – including the high school principal and the superintendent – the space was cleared out and readied for some big renovation steps.
During the first semester, the large room was cleaned and painted as teacher Mike Adams was pushing to get students in the space and creating. The inaugural group of students in the lab using the design platform TinkerCAD and the Fab Lab’s 3D Printers was Heather Stossmeister’s 5th grade class. With the help of two high school students, Kylee Huffman and Angus Beckett, the students learned how to design characters, projects, and name tags on the computer, and after hours of watching the plastic fibers weave back and forth, they finally got to hold their creations in their hands.
Since then, the lab has been holding open hours for students from 3:45 to 5:45 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. At least two teachers, along with Huffman and Beckett, have been in there with other teachers and students coming and going as they learn the potential of the Fab Lab.
The Fab Lab has several goals that it is keeping in mind throughout its renovation process. First, the students need to learn to create with 21st century tools in order to be prepared for the variety of career fields that are rapidly opening and developing. All students need to have a chance to reach for the limit of their potential, including students who may not be skilled in academics but are skilled with creativity and innovation. The Fab Lab provides a place for all students to have access to machines that would be out of the price range of many families, and therefore, it evens the field of opportunity.
The Fab Lab is still in its infancy. Right now the most popular machines are the 3D printers and the Glowforge. There are plans, however, to include a crafting space with a Cricut, a sewing machine, a recording space for music and podcasts, a green screen area, a small computer lab, and a collaboration space for people who find creativity in words, photography, and many other fields.
The school is very excited about the potential for the Far North Fab Lab.