FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 24, 2011
A Russian TV news report of FabLab@Russia’s inauguration can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/user/TLTLaboratory#p/a/u/1/1NRpSAyhpqQ.
Stanford, CA – Stanford University researchers have partnered with Russian educators to establish their first-ever digital fabrication lab designed specifically for high school students to boost student interest in science, engineering, and other STEM fields.
FabLab@School, which opened June 9 in Moscow, features a range of high-tech equipment—a far cry from the test tubes and beakers still seen in today’s high school science labs. Advanced tools--including laser cutters, 3D printers and scanners, chemical sensors, and robotics-- will enable teachers and students to design and build advanced science experiments, product prototypes, robots, machines, and engage in other engineering projects especially aimed at solving real-world problems.
“We need to connect science and engineering to students’ life, to empower them to find solutions to real-life problems and propose their own inventions,” said Paulo Blikstein, a Stanford School of Education professor spearheading the project. “Science and engineering can be engaging and fun. No one pursues a career without being passionate about it. We need to have a place like this in schools, where students can at the same time be creative and learn science and mathematics.”
The new lab will serve nearly 750 high school students at the MEI 1502 Lyceum, a STEM-focused public school in Moscow.
The initiative is funded by former Schlumberger chairman and chief executive officer, D.E. Baird. “I was interested in funding this innovative, collaborative model between academia, a high school, a corporation and its nonprofit educational program,” said Baird. “By making the most advanced technologies accessible to teenagers, we will capture their imagination and engage them in deep, meaningful learning experiences. This could create a positive educational disruption in schools.”
Blikstein and his students worked with colleagues in Russia to develop programs designed to boost student interest in science and engineering careers. He plans to conduct the first-ever rigorous study on the lab’s impact on students’ math and science achievement scores. In addition, he will examine whether the lab helps improve student skills in problem-solving and creativity, and increase students’ self-efficacy in science and mathematics.
FabLab@School is part of the FabLab network, a worldwide group of prototyping and fabrication labs created by MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld. FabLab@School also builds on the growing success of the Stanford Makers’ Club, a lab for K-12 students and undergraduates established by Blikstein that has drawn high rates of participation among female students. Forty-eight percent of lab participants are female students, a marked contrast to the student makeup of most engineering schools where women only comprise 18% of total enrollment.
For more information about FabLab@School, visit http://stanfordmakersclub.ning.com/page/fablabschool-1.