Marymount School of New York City’s Fab Lab is short for “fabrication lab,” but could just as easily mean “fabulous.” Marymount girls can plunge into the Maker world and follow the design process from idea to prototype using what one Fab Lab visitor described as “a ridiculous number of machines.” These machines allow students to scan, design, modify, and print 3-D objects. The replacement of an older tech space quickly morphed “into something more integrated across the curriculum,” says upper-middle school division head Kimberly Marvin-Field.
Last year Marymount sixth graders built probes and programmed Arduino controllers as part a Radiolab “citizen science” project to track cicada emergence; seniors then picked up the same project for a biology class. Ninth graders used “open studio” time in Fab Lab to turn part of a stairway handrail into a musical instrument using sensors and a Scratch-programmable controller. “Fourth graders would come up the stairs and discover the music; the next thing we knew they began collaborating, making music together, even making chords,” says Fab Lab administrator Jaymes Dec.
Fab Lab has become a way for students to re-imagine time and space, and Marymount will soon have multiple Fab Labs as its campus expands. Dec envisions a time when parents will be asking their Marymount students, “So, what did you make in school today?”