In our Inside the Maker Studio blog series, we’re diving into the Textiles, Electronics, Fab Lab, and Woodshop Maker Studios with our Studio managers and lead educators. This week, we explore the Fab Lab with Cori…
What can KIDs do in the Fab Lab?
The Fab Lab (short for Digital Fabrication Lab) is where kids and families can learn and explore digital programs that can be translated into real creations, like 3D printing. We primarily focus on modeling and Computer Aided Design (CAD), and aim to make programs accessible for kids through fun, age-appropriate projects. For example, in our weekend Maker Studio certification workshops, kids can make their “dream house” using TinkerCad, or model robots in 123D. In our upcoming 3D Design Challenges after-school program, kids can put these skills to use for everyday applications like repairing broken objects.
Tell us about your background and expertise with digital fabrication.
My background is a little unconventional. After getting my Bachelor’s degree in Technical Theater, I started off working for various productions as a costume technician. But I wanted to do more than just make clothing. I found and became a member of MakeHartford, a Connecticut makerspace, then went back to school in Puppetry with a focus on fabrication. Somewhere in that mix of endeavors, I started building my own 3D printers and became well-versed in digital fabrication, CAD drafting, and circuitry.
How does digital fabrication fit into the maker movement, and more specifically, KID Museum’s Mind of a Maker learning philosophy?
I think digital fabrication is one of the founding pillars of the maker movement. 3D printing specifically has been one of the core skills of the movement since it incorporates key foundational maker skills like programming and design. It also syncs up well with our learning philosophy at KID Museum–kids not only get a chance to expand their technical skills, but practice persistence, explore new technology, and build confidence in their own abilities.
How can digital fabrication skills be used with other maker skills?
Workshops in the Fab Lab highly emphasize design, which is useful in many of our other Maker Studios. Kids learn how to look at a problem/design from all angles, and see the breakdown of elements that make up their creations. You can also incorporate 3D printed objects into other projects, like those made with textiles and electronics. Our upcoming Engineer This! and Cardboard Couture summer camps are just a few great examples of how we combine maker skills in our programs.
Give us a quick history of 3D printing.
While the first 3D printer was designed in 1981, it wasn’t until 2005 that 3D printing took the step to become more mainstream. RepRap, or Replicated Rapid Prototyper, set out to make 3D printers easily accessible outside of commercial settings. Today, 3D printers are affordable, easy to use, and a great entry point for anyone who wants to get involved with digital fabrication. And as technology keeps improving and innovating, the applications for 3D printing keep expanding. I’m always excited to see what new things lay on the horizon.
Who are some innovators in digital fabrication that you go to for inspiration?
For inspiration, I tend to look to people like Adam Savage (MythBusters). He’s always pushing the boundaries on what we think we can do. I also look to Svetlana Quindt, a costume maker out of Germany, and Simone Giertz, a swedish robot maker who is known for making ‘useless robots’.
Come create and innovate with us in the Fab Lab! Stay tuned to all of our upcoming digital fabrication programming at our calendar here.