Sun10262014

Schools

BCS adds ‘FabLab’ to curriculum next year


Photo By: Traci Newell/Town Crier
Photo Traci Newell/Town Crier

A Bullis Charter School student uses a zSpace Science Station, a 3-D tool available next year in the school’s new “FabLab.”

Bullis Charter School is scheduled to introduce a “FabLab,” or Fabrication Laboratory, next year that allows students access to the newest trends in technology.

The lab, which will be located on the charter school’s portion of the Blach Intermediate School campus, will be outfitted with easy-to-use, age-appropriate tools that promote scientific modeling and simulations and equipment for robotics, sensing and digital fabrication.

Innovation through technology has been the cornerstone of the charter school’s mission since its inception more than nine years ago, according to Superintendent/Principal Wanny Hersey.

“Silicon Valley is the technological hub of our planet,” she said. “As the Valley redefines itself every few years with new technologies, so must we as educators to bring the most innovative and thought-provoking curriculum to our students to be citizens.”

David Malpica, who led Stanford University’s Transformative Learning Technologies Lab and served as resident expert in 3-D graphics and 3-D printing for education, will oversee the program. Malpica earned a master’s degree in education with an emphasis on learning, design and technology. He studied under Paulo Blikstein, who in 2009 developed the idea of “FabLabs” in schools as a way to put cutting-edge technology for design and construction in the hands of middle and high school students.

“As an example, imagine exploring the human body through 3-D and holographs,” Malpica said. “Instead of studying the human body in books, students will have the opportunity to experience firsthand biological functions like never before. Additionally, this technology can be used to explore, create and interface with other disciplines like art, history, math, reading and music.”

Bullis Charter School teachers are currently working alongside Malpica to develop units that integrate the tools in ways that engage students and hone their 21st-century skills via real-world application.

“Access to these tools also gives those students who might not normally engage with paper-and-pencil learning a unique opportunity to re-engage in the learning process,” said Rebecca Young, fifth-grade teacher at Bullis Charter School.

“I’m thrilled that my children are going to have so many different opportunities to learn about and explore our world,” said Vicki Lee, mother of three charter school students. “I’m so grateful that the teachers and administrators continually put their students, our children, first and think outside the box to help them grow.”

The charter school strives to incorporate innovative technologies into its curriculum, including project-based learning and design thinking.

“We are poised to seize this tremendous opportunity with a dedicated space for innovation,” said Ken Moore, chairman of the charter school’s board of directors. “We envision each student spending meaningful time in this new laboratory. We look forward to sharing more plans as our teachers and administrators work to develop curricula.”

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