In early 2016, we ran a total of 50 free FabLab taster sessions in primary schools, secondary schools, FabLabs and public libraries across Devon, from Exeter to Seaton to Barnstaple, as part of a county-wide collaborative project, funded by Devon County Council. The initiative aimed to inspire digital makers, develop digital making skills in young people, and support the digital agenda within the curriculum.
Led by Fab Lab Plymouth Manager Ian Hankey, who is also an award-winning designer and Master Glassmaker, the workshops gave schoolchildren access to cutting edge technology that they may not otherwise have in their own schools. The workshops were designed to be fun and engaging, giving a flavour of what FabLabs can offer, using digital technologies such as 3D printing, laser cutting, 3D scanning and 3D design.
Workshops included Make a Puppet, Race a Racing Car, Making History, where children 3D printed a Roman bust, and Build a Glider, where 3D design software, a laser cutter and a 3D printer were used to design, construct and then fly a wooden glider. The Makey Makey Musical Objects workshop saw children as young as 6 turning everyday objects into musical instruments using basic circuits and programming.
Overall the project was an overwhelming success in terms of reaching new audiences and generating interest in the services that FabLabs can offer.
“Today’s workshop was very different to our student's usual learning. Our Year 6 students have experienced technology in the workshops that they’ve only ever heard about on the news before, and they’ve had a taste of where technology is headed in the future.”— Mrs Taylor, Seaton Primary School