Marymount International School Inaugurates its New FabLab
Marymount International School inaugurated Rome’s first FabLab in a private, international school on Saturday January 14, 2017. This Fabrication Laboratory was built on the work of Professor Seymour Papert, Neil Gershenfeld, and their colleagues at MIT. The building is dedicated to the digital as well as the artisanal creations of the “Maker” movement, and hosts avant-garde technology in addition to traditional tools in order to create S.T.E.A.M.-based projects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics).
Marymount’s FabLab extends over 220 sqm and is built on two levels with a 7.5-meter high ceiling in what was once a barn - part of a nucleus of buildings harking back to the end of the 1800’s. Redesigned as a super technological area by a team of architects and engineers, the FabLab’s floor is made of an industrial mix of quartz and cement with a resin finish for hydro repellent protection in addition to a central inlay of the historic porphyry cobblestones that were part of the original building.
The building’s stone walls have been recovered and partly left in view while the large windows feature high acoustic and thermal isolation, good energy conservation characteristics and provide an optimal temperature in addition to the containment of heating and air conditioning costs.
The mezzanine level has been built in high-resistance, copper-colored weathering steel and has been designed as a workshop space unto itself with ledges and shelves.
The building is able to host up to 100 persons and its 2.0 furniture includes ergonomic and adjustable chairs as well as modular and mobile tables with 60° angles that can be easily adapted to any type of lesson, individual or group work. Partitioning panels are able to transform the open space into specific work areas according to requirements.
Students learn to use the FabLab’s machines and tools including 3D printers, 3D scanner, laser cutter, vinyl cutter, air compressor, multimeter, various sensors (for movement, temperature, humidity, light, sound etc.), and software such as Scratch, Grove, LittleBits, Cubetto Play Kit, Tinkercad, Arduino, makeBlock, Raspberry Pi, Processing, Inkscape for 2D drawings and CURA for the 3D printers.
The FabLab has the support of a dedicated teacher who works both with the students as well as with faculty in order to assist them with incorporating FabLab usage into their regular program of studies.
Some of the projects underway are: the design, programming and installation of the security system for the FabLab itself; a motorized model of the regions of central Italy which can reproduce and simulate what happens when the earth is subject to the enormous pressure of an earthquake in order to better understand recent events.
Some of the most significant and positive aspects of having a FabLab on campus include the opportunity of providing students with the possibility to further develop their self-esteem, their critical reasoning and problem-solving skills, their creativity and the way they collaborate with others in addition to the growth of their technical knowledge for a 21st Century education.