Our Fab Lab is one of only about 20 in the U.S., many of which are at colleges and universities. Latin’s Middle and Upper School engineering students work to solve real-world problems and create real-world products. Fab Lab participants share information with other Fab Lab locations around the world (via a live feed that is broadcast to other Fab Labs) and have opportunities to collaborate on projects with an international network of professional engineers, entrepreneurs, educators and students.
Founded at MIT, a Fab Lab goes far beyond a typical makerspace in that its core capabilities include:
- A computer-controlled laser cutter for press-fit assembly of 3D structures from 2D parts.
- A large milling machine (4’ x 8’) for making furniture- and house-sized parts.
- A sign cutter to produce printing masks, flexible circuits and antennas.
- A precision (micron resolution) milling machine to make 3D molds and surface-mount circuit boards.
- Programming tools for low-cost, high-speed embedded processors.
Engineering & Entrepreneurship
Science in Lower School introduces engineering in creative, engaging ways. Projects include bridge making using popsicle sticks and testing their structural strength with added weights and complex Rube Goldberg-like constructions that teach chain reaction and momentum while developing creativity and problem-solving skills.
Latin’s Middle School offers separate boys’ and girls’ engineering classes (both teach the same curriculum). A recent Middle School project improved a wheelchair’s functionality and helped students develop their critical thinking and hands-on skills to solve problems while building empathy for others in the process.
Seniors may take the Entrepreneurship and Global Leadership course where they learn to write a formal business plan and use rapid prototyping in the Fab Lab. They work with Upper School engineering students who also learn business principles to understand how to make sustainable products. Students recently explored using the Fab Lab to create personalized, on-demand products to be sold in the school store.
Art & Mathematics
A multi-disciplinary approach is taken for projects throughout Charlotte Latin. STEAM areas are interwoven in projects from Lower School (e.g., the Lower School roller coaster construction project requires all areas of STEAM to produce a workable, stable and attractive final product) to Upper School, where art studios and the Fab Lab are together in their own building, allowing for inspiration and seamless integration.