To understand is to invent. (Piaget, 1976)

Foothill Elementary has a MakerSpace!  The MakerSpace is a partnership between our school system, the Saratoga Education Foundation, and our  Foothill PTA.

Our next FabLab Night will be October 13th, 2016 from 4pm to 7pm in Rm. 19. We’ll continue work on the two projects below. The October class will be taught by Ms. Misty — Beginning Circuits. Students will make either a winking bunny or a spooky ghost. 

Right now our PTA is sponsoring two projects:

Our previous FabLab Night was on September 15th, 2016 from 4pm to 7pm in Rm. 19.

What is a MakerSpace?  It is a place that our kids can go to tinker, to invent, and to create real things.

What will be in it?  Well, that depends on a lot of things, including our teachers and parents, but especially our kids’ interests.  We expect that the materials and resources in the MakerSpace will change a lot over time.  Look at the list below to see what we have right now.

What is a FabLab Night?  A FabLab is another common name for a MakerSpace.  ‘Fab’ is short for both ‘Fabrication’ and ‘Fabulous’ — as in, Foothill Fabulous! Once a month, the Foothill PTA will open up the MakerSpace with some dedicated volunteers.  We’ll let interested community members work on our projects and we’ll also offer a class.

fablab1Who Can Come on FabLab Night?  Members of the Foothill community.  However, students under 18 must have an adult guardian with them!

What do I need to do?  The first thing you will need to do is to show that you understand the rules of FabLab Night.  We have to keep everyone Safe, Respectful, and Accountable!!!  We need waivers from everyone who will be in the space.  Other than that, just be prepared to tinker and to have fun.


What is in the MakerSpace?  We are just getting started, so we expect this list to change throughout the year.  Our Read-A-Thon will help us bring more resources into the space!

Right now we expect to have: fablab2

  • Cardboard  
  • Construction Paper 
  • Scissors       
  • Masking Tape         
  • Duct Tape      
  • Elmer’s Glue  
  • Pipe Cleaners  
  • Monofilament (10 lb.)
  • Rulers   
  • Hot Glue Guns
  • Aluminum Foil 
  • Fabric Glue
  • Needles
  • Thread
  • Cotton/Muslin/Felt
  • Screwdrivers
  • Buttons
  • Pliers
  • Popsicle Sticks
  • Post-It Notes

What are the goals of the MakerSpace?

For the first year, the Foothill PTA FabLab Night learning goals are:

  1. Provide a place for varied social interaction, including peer-led social interaction, within the domains of making, tinkering, and engineering.  Creating is a process usually done in groups, with feedback.  Provide a safe place for students to understand how to create in groups and also how to give and to receive feedback.
  2. Encourage literacy.  Learfablab3n how to research across multiple media in order to understand the current state of human knowledge.  Furthermore, learn how to create and how to communicate plans.
  3. Encourage modeling and prototyping. This is step 5 in the Engineering Process in the box that follows, and is common to making, tinkering, and engineering.


The Engineering Process

The engineering process is cyclical, and consists of the following steps:

  1. Defining the problem.  This often is a process of discovery, and learning how to ask questions, understand assumptions, and identify constraints are all very important.
  2. Research the current state of the art.  Is this a solved problem?  Can it be solved better?
  3. Imagine solutions.  Brainstorming is an important skill, and has a strong social component.
  4. Downselect and plan.  Be able to decide which of several promising paths is the first you will try.  Be able to break the solution into steps that can be implemented.
  5. Model and/or prototype.  Create your solution.
  6. Evaluate and test.  Did you solve your problem?  Can you solve it better?

While these steps are similar across references, most references differ in the number and detail of the steps in the process. For another example version of the engineering process aimed at educators, see:

A big thanks to Stanford’s for these graphics!