The Fabrication Laboratory, at LEAP Academy, was opened in the fall of 2012, when the School’s STEM building was also opened. It was established by the collaborative efforts of a team of Rutgers-Camden STEM Faculty, the Community Leadership Center and the LEAP Academy University Charter School. The “FabLab”, as it has come to be known by all, focuses on the creation and implementation of innovation. It does so, through the mixture of best practices in the context of academic/curriculum piloting and hands-on contribution in STEM areas to motivate students’ interest in said fields. Such partnership provides an excellent opportunity to develop, refine and test a comprehensive STEM curriculum that can be delivered across grade levels by utilizing a problem based/hands-on approach, where students can create something needed to continue their project, not only enhances traditional teaching in STEM, but also provides students with the experiential element that resonates so within the professional strata in this fields.
Inresponding to the critical need for diversity in STEM fields and to reduce the gap in experiences that engage minority students in such fields, through preparation, motivate and exposition, we aim to jumpstart not only the academy growth of our students, but also the growth of a city that has been left underdeveloped. In tackling the status quo with our initiatives, we at LEAP Academy’s FabLab hope that by utilizing the School’s holistic approach, which includes an adequate environment and philosophical foundations, that support the development of innovative and customized learning structures, we may create a positive impact in the future of collaborative environment between the LEAP family and community, while showing the rest of the world that science can make a difference in the crafting of societies.
It is our goal is to establish an environment for innovation and entrepreneurship at the LEAP Academy School District, by providing students, teachers, and Camden community members the necessary tools and machinery that will allow them to design, engineer, and manufacture products.
Through a focused STEM curriculum, and including students as part of FabClub and college-level students as fellows, we aim our work towards building the necessary instructional structures for developing a model for instruction that is vertically aligned from K-12 and that builds on the college preparation of the school, to guarantee the solving of community-level problems.
At the end of the day, younglings learn better when they can relate to the application of knowledge, so learning is not an abstract exercise, but rather a solution-focused process for application. As such, it is the practical& application of the project that builds on ideas, research, solutions and communication for citizenship education and the environment.
Following such thought, we provide a workspace, with all of the resources (laptops with the necessary tools to sketch, design, and model computer prototypes for these projects; with machines capable of reading the computer designs and fabricating the parts necessary to build these prototypes), that promotes research and brainstorming during the initial project design stages. All of this is done taking into consideration the concept of replication, to guarantee complete success in outside locations. This space also serves as a teaching and training area for our visitors.