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The FabLab Classroom: Learning Middle School Science Through Engineering Design and Manufacturing

Glen Bull, Eric Bredder, Peter Malcolm, and Nigel Standish, University of Virginia
This session will focus on the FabLab Classroom, a project exploring the use of digital fabrication to allow middle school students to create digital designs that are realized as physical objects, such as model satellites (in collaboration with NASA), working wind turbines, and speaker systems. The Fablab Classroom work provides context for addressing the goals of (1) helping create the skilled workforce needed for the future and (2) responding to the Next Generation Science Standards, which call for integration of engineering design into science education.


About the Presenters: Glen Bull, Professor and co-Director for the Center for Technology & Teacher Education, University of Virginia Glen Bull is coordinator of STEM education at the Curry School of Education, where Bull is the current recipient of the Samuel Braley Gray Professorship in Mathematics Education. Bull is PI of The FabLab Classroom, which is exploring the use of digital fabrication to allow middle school students to create digital designs that are realized as physical objects such as model satellites (in collaboration with NASA), working wind turbines, and speaker systems. This serves as a springboard for teaching middle school science through engineering design in the context of advanced manufacturing technologies. Bull developed, with Tim Sigmon, one of the nation’s first statewide K–12 Internet systems, Virginia’s Public Education Network, which linked all 2,000 schools in Virginia. He established the K–12 Advanced Manufacturing Lab in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Virginia, and developed, with Hod Lipson, the Fab@School Fabricator, the first 3D printer designed specifically for K–12 schools. Bull is a founding member and past president of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE), and a recipient of the Willis Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement in Technology and Teacher Education. He currently provides leadership for the National Technology Leadership Coalition, a consortium of national teacher educator associations and national educational technology associations. He serves as editor of Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, a peer-reviewed journal jointly sponsored by five professional associations representing science education (ASTE), mathematics education (AMTE), English education (CEE), social studies (CUFA), and educational technology (SITE). Bull earned his MA and PhD from the Ohio State University.
Eric Bredder, Graduate Fellow, University of Virginia Eric Bredder is a graduate fellow in the Commonwealth Engineering Design (CED) Academy for Advanced Manufacturing in K–12 education. The CED academy is a collaboration among the University of Virginia and the Charlottesville and Albemarle Schools. Eric serves as co-director and engineering education advisor for the CED K–12 Fabrication Laboratory. He is developer of a mixed-reality science simulation for the FabLab Classroom initiative.
Peter Malcolm, Graduate Research Fellow, University of Virginia Peter Malcolm is a PhD candidate in the Instructional Technology Program at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. He has developed and done research on software for STEM teaching on various platforms in K–12 classrooms. His projects have included a mathematical app for iOS (iEstimation) and mathematics and science virtual manipulatives designed for use on SMARTboards. Malcolm has collaborated on building an NSF-funded whole-classroom science simulation called WallCology, as part of the Embedded Phenomenon initiative, where simulated creatures "migrated" across multiple devices. He has helped develop and contributed research for WISEngineering.org, the first open-source engineering learning management system for K–12 schools. His doctoral research focuses on middle school geometry and rapid prototyping. This work centers on the way students learn to tackle new geometric concepts as they design products and then see them created on 3D printers. The broad theme of his research is in developing software to help elementary and middle school students visualize, understand, and interact with STEM concepts. Malcolm holds a master's degree in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Nigel Standish, Graduate Fellow, University of Virginia Nigel Standish is a graduate fellow in the Commonwealth Engineering Design (CED) Academy for Advanced Manufacturing in K–12 education. The CED Academy is a collaboration among the University of Virginia and the Charlottesville and Albemarle Schools. Nigel serves as co-director and science education advisor for the CED K–12 Fabrication Laboratory. He is curriculum developer for a periodic motion unit currently being piloted at Buford Middle School in Charlottesville, Virginia.