To help tackle the disruption in the STEM education/career pipeline, FableVision and The Reynolds Center have spent the past five years collaborating with University of Virginia’s successful Fab@School Initiative to bring meaningful STEM teaching and learning to many younger learners and their teachers.
This past January, after years of development, testing and research led by Dr. Glen Bull and Dr. Peggy Healy Stearns, the FableVision/Reynolds Center teams released Fab@School Maker Studio digital design and fabrication software, which is the keystone tool in the Fab@School initiative. Made possible in large measure by the generosity of the Cisco Foundation, Fab@School Maker Studio is an easy-to-use web-based digital design and fabrication tool, which invites students in grades 3-8 to experience STEM and STEAM learning in a more engaging, personally meaningful way.
Maker Studio offers a unique onramp to creating with cross-curricular activities from simple to sophisticated and support for a variety of materials and a range of tools from scissors to inexpensive 2D cutters to 3D printers and laser cutters – all with a single tool. Beginning with paper, cardstock, and cardboard, Maker Studio provides an accessible, low-cost way to imagine, design, invent, and fabricate 2D designs, pop-ups, and 3D projects like geometric constructions and working machines. Maker Studio is part of the national Fab@School research initiative and committed to championing equity & access to quality maker education.
Last year, our Fab@School team was also tapped to join the global Early Childhood Fab Lab Partnership, led by the Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM (TIES) and MIT Fab Foundation to bring the Fab Lab learning experience to early learners (PreK to Grade 2). Other Early Childhood Fab Lab partners include the Bay Area Discovery Museum, the Center for Childhood Creativity, Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology. To support the Early Childhood Fab Lab mission, with generous support from the Noyce Foundation, the FableVision/Reynolds Center teams are now working to create an early education version (PreK-2) of the recently-developed Fab@School Maker Studio software for both formal and informal spaces.