Northwood Fab Lab
Name: Northwood Fab Lab
Address: N14463 S Hwy 53
Capability: Vinyl cutting
Webpages: https://sites.google.com/site/northwoodfablab/home, https://www.facebook.com/northwoodfablab/
Description: Northwood Fab Lab
Vision-Making ideas a reality.
Mission-Design. Create. Fabricate.
The Northwood District (Minong, Gordon, Wascott and Frog Creek) spreads across more than 400 square miles of small, rural, non-farm communities. Lake homes in the area contribute to a unique circumstance of a property rich community, despite significant poverty among many families. Parents of many of our students earn low wages (median family income is 20% less than the state average). Because we are property rich, the district only receives a total of $22,000 in general state aid, 5th lowest in the state – while surrounding districts receive approximately $6,000 per student.
Northwood School District unveiled their new fabrication laboratory (Fab Lab) on Thursday, October 6, 2016. A Fab Lab is a small-scale prototyping facility offering opportunities for students and community to try digital fabrication for free. The main focus of the Fab Lab is educating students, through hands-on experiences, allowing them to put into practice concepts they have learned in science, technology, engineering, art/design, and mathematics (STEAM) courses. Examples of student projects:
Revitalizing the community garden
Building indoor elementary planting racks
Constructing physical therapy devices for local company
Bridge Engineering challenge
Designing outdoor signs for businesses & school
Custom rocketry (3D printed nose cones & fins)
Fabricated furniture for classrooms – “Quiet Spaces” ($900 in savings)
Student run enterprises
Girls-In-Engineering: 3D printed scale houses & hovercrafts
Fab Labs (started by MIT) share core capabilities, allowing people to share projects and ideas across a global network. These labs are generally setup with similar computer controlled equipment where participants will have the opportunity to literally make almost anything. The Northwood Fab Lab has a laser engraver, vinyl cutter, six 3D printers, mini-milling machine, 4’x8’ CNC router, soldering, welding and woodworking equipment, and laptops.
The Fab Lab will always allow free community access (many others charge). For the first year of operation the Northwood Fab Lab was open twice a month from 4pm-8pm. Users bring their own material; training and equipment are all provided to meet individual goals. A typical evening averages 12 individuals (mostly adults), but we have had 24 in one session. As we begin this next school year we plan to be open weekly from 4pm-8pm for free community access. Community projects have ranged from personal, gifts, business, etc. Community nights will continue through the summer and hopefully be scheduled weekly next fall. Additional weekend and summer workshops are in development as well. The Fab Lab advisory board consists of school administrators, teachers, community, and business representatives. Our Fab Lab Board meets regularly, and handles the challenges that arise.
It is important that our students are provided the same opportunities that are available in large school districts. They need access to current technology and equipment, and funding is our biggest challenge. The Fab Lab provides us with countless opportunities to engage and inspire our students to look beyond the borders of northern Wisconsin. Community access allows everyone within driving distance to also share in this success and global economy. The location of where someone lives, or the financial situation they are in, shouldn’t limit how far they go or what they achieve.
Activity status: active