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Newsworthy

Engineering & Design Across Disciplines in the BCIL Fabrication Lab
by Meredith Storrs, Assistant Director of Communications

Sawdust, lasers, and ideas fly in the BCIL Fabrication Lab, led by Fabrication Innovator and Collaborator John Wan. Since opening in 2019, the Fabrication Lab has been a favorite spot for ideating solutions to real-world challenges through BCIL projects, courses, and independent studies. Early in the school year, several classes have already taken advantage of the opportunity to bring learning to life with the various tools in the lab.

In her AP Biology class, Science Teacher Laura Feucht’s students designed and laser-cut mazes for an experiment with pill bugs. Once complete, the students arranged their mazes with food and water sources so they could run tests to see which direction the bugs would crawl. In part two of this project, they will grow plants inside the mazes to discover how plants grow through a confined space.

During a study of lift, David Svec brought his Introduction to Aerospace and Drone Technology class into the lab to experiment with various wing-shape designs so that they could learn the best mathematical curvatures for flight. Students worked with different materials, then tested, modified, and retested to see how weight and texture might impact their designs. Using an industrial fan, they tested the lift produced by each wing (the wing would hover in mid-air if effective!), and then gradually moved the wing farther away from the fan until the wing no longer produced enough lift to hover. Students marked the floor with tape strips to determine the farthest distance achieved and then crowned the winning design.

Marc Schuhl wanted to provide his history students with a tangible understanding of the shaduf, an irrigation technology from ancient Egypt that allowed farmers to move water with the smallest lift of a finger. Students learned about the construction of this lever and counterweight in class and created their own shadufs out of PVC pipe, weights, and other found materials. Mr. Schuhl shared, "Our day in the BCIL Fab Lab helped me to teach my students that ancient people were just as clever as we are and that they found ingenious solutions to the real problems in their own lives. The lesson had the added benefit of being a great team builder as a new class of kids came together in September."

Up next, Mr. Wan is planning a project with students in a Middle School science exploratory to design customized modular planters and will experiment with alternative materials to design a sustainable, portable acoustic shell for the Upper School Choral groups. Teachers from all classes are welcome to bring their ideas to the lab and collaborate with Mr. Wan. Whether it’s for a short 20 minute project or several class periods, Mr. Wan collaborates on research, design, supplies prep, and the fabrication process to support hands-on learning. He is also an eager mentor for any student with an idea in their mind and hands ready to make it happen.

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