SUDA Mission: “Empower students through a highly rigorous, engaging and supportive learning environment to graduate prepared for college, career, and life as designers and leaders of movements towards a sustainable and just world.”
The Castlemont FabLab was created in part to fulfill the SUDA mission and to build an active space that would serve as the launching pad for numerous SUDA’s programs. Before SUDA arrived to the Castlemont campus, there was a large empty space that was previously used by ROTC as a gun range. IBL was brought in to partner with SUDA and bring their vision for transforming the space and, in the process, bring Castlemont along in its goals toward being a 21st Century skills school. A primary goal was to engage students with hands-on learning that would instill in them the possibilities of careers in STEAM fields and inspire them to explore those career pathways. Taking into account SUDA’s own vision for the space, IBL suggested it become a FabLab. Today, the Castlemont Fablab location serves as the unofficial headquarters of SUDA.
We inherited an empty space with unrealized potential, and through imaginative collaboration and hard work built something amazing that continues to evolve and impact the campus in positive ways.
IBL managed, organized, and conducted the following:
While full implementation has been slow to realize, and impact assessments still in process, we can confidently say that SUDA has been successful in attracting hundreds of students into the FabLab. An after-school program was developed to encourage students to dive deeper into the nuts and bolts of a FabLab and to use the space and equipment for their own projects. Currently, the FabLab is used everyday by different instructors and new students continue to participate in the classes that utilize the space regularly. It has quickly grown to be a resource center on campus for hands-on learning.
Here is one simple but profound story from the early beginnings of the FabLab. During one of the first classes, Danny asked the students a question: “Who here knows how to read a tape measure?” To his amazement, not a single student raised their hand. It was at this point that Danny realized that the need of a FabLab at Castlemont was critical. Since its conception, the FabLab has impacted more than half of the students on campus and today all of those students know how to use a tape measure. The influence of the FabLab goes beyond students learning to use a tape measure by encouraging design thinking, providing hands-on learning opportunities, and developing STEM skills and competencies.
For the school community, the benefits of the FabLab include encouraging a multidisciplinary approach to education. To date, the FabLab has been utilized by the following classes and groups on campus:
A resource center that spans this many disciplines and is used not only for boosting basic skills of students, but also for bringing college credit courses into the school is a tremendous asset to the school and its community.