FabKids is an introductory course into digital fabrication for kids. Digital fabrication is the process of turning ideas into computer designs and then into real objects. Digital fabrication can be understood as the process of turning bits into atoms.
For those who haven’t heard about the maker movement, Fab Labs and makerspaces all this can sound a bit strange, so let me briefly introduce all these terms;
The maker or DIY (Do It Yourself) movement is a huge (almost online) community of people who enjoy imagining objects, machines, computer programs, or whatever!, and turning them into real projects. A great deal of these projects are shared through the internet for others to ask about, discuss, take ideas or even improve them. This way the maker community evolves very fast, with projects of increasing complexity where anyone can contribute or add their thoughts. Note that “maker” is just a way to say anyone interested in discovering how things work and making its own ideas real objects, machines…
From Fab Foundation:
Fab Lab is the educational outreach component of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA), an extension of its research into digital fabrication and computation. A Fab Lab is a technical prototyping platform for innovation and invention, providing stimulus for local entrepreneurship. A Fab Lab is also a platform for learning and innovation: a place to play, to create, to learn, to mentor, to invent.
Maker spaces are almost the same concept, but they are not bounded to the CBA.
The idea of the Fabkids course started —as far as we know— last summer at the Fab10 event here in Barcelona, the 10th anual Fab Lab meeting. During the seven day-long event, kids learned computer aided design (CAD), 3D scanning, 3D printing, laser cutting, milling, mold making, mold casting and electronics with Arduino.
After the great success of the first FabKids we, a local team of three people, decided to keep on with the initiative in Sant Cugat —a town next to Barcelona— and organise a 4 day long course during Easter week.
In this first edition of FabKids Sant Cugat we had 19 girls and boys (more girls than boys!) with ages ranging from 11 to 15. Actually there weren’t more than 17 kids per day, as some of them couldn’t book for the four days. They learnt 3D and 2D design with CAD software, 3D scanning, 3D printing and Laser cutting. In addition to all this fabrication tools, they also got in touch with programming and electronics using Arduino boards.
Some details about the course:
It was held at the Creativity Room at ESADE Creapolis (very cool room!).
Our toolset included:
- x4 3D printers (3 of which where lend by RepRap BCN, the other was mine).
- x1 Laser cutter (lend by Laser Project).
- x2 Kinect 3D scanners.
- x17 computers.
- About 12 Arduino boards and many electronic components.
The communication language was either Catalan or Spanish.
On the software side, the kids learned or familiarised with:
- 123D Design: 3D CAD (design) software.
- Draftsight: 2D CAD (design) software.
- Skanect: 3D scanning software.
- Cura: slicing software for 3D printing.
- Arduino IDE: programming software.
We received a very good feedback both from both the kids and the parents, and hence we wish to repeat the experience in short.