Middle School West Art/FAB Lab Club Makes Improvements to Middle School West

Middle School West students in the Art/FAB Lab Club are updating fixtures and items around the school to improve their look and functionality. The club, which was started by sixth-grade teacher Sandra Guinto and Art teacher Tiffany Nordaby, was established in October and has been a hit among students.

Guinto, who formerly taught a class called The Art of Math in Reynoldsburg, presented a plan last year to Gahanna’s board seeking to teach students how to apply what they learn in math classes to real-world activities. Part of the proposal was to utilize the district’s mobile FAB Lab, a fabrication workshop outfitted with a vinyl cutter, laser and hand tools, which had largely stayed at the high school since it was acquired several years ago. The Art/FAB Lab Club at Middle School West is the product of Guinto’s vision.

“The Art/FAB Lab Club students take part in student-led, school-driven projects,” said Guinto. “The students decided what projects to pursue by walking through the building and looking specifically for ways to make the school more functional. Students investigated all potential projects and chose three to pursue over the course of the semester.”

This past semester, students created new wooden hall passes using hand tools and the laser to engrave room numbers and a customized logo they designed. Students also noticed during their walkthrough that the fire extinguisher boxes weren’t visually appealing and weren’t clearly labeled. To improve them, they made new covers for the boxes that read “Fire Extinguisher” and placed a flame on them. Their final project was to work with the librarian to brand the Library/Learning Commons space to make it feel cohesive. Students also have the opportunity to use their skills to create small items they can take home and use.

The FAB Lab itself is what’s referred to as a “dirty space,” meaning it houses tools that can make a mess. In addition to the laser and vinyl cutter, the FAB Lab gives students access to everyday tools, such as saws and drills, which helps them learn how to do household jobs.

Students also can use the Maker Space in the library, which is considered a “clean” space as it does not have any saws or drills. The Maker Space has tools, such as a vinyl cutter called a Cricket, which allows students to be creative in untraditional ways with less supervision.

“My biggest focus in using the Maker Space and FAB Lab is to take learning outside of the traditional classroom,” said Guinto. “I want to give students a voice, ownership and a choice in their learning, particularly when it comes to math and programming. Through the club, students see how the lessons they learn in their traditional classes translate into skills they can apply to trades or in college.”

There has been such a demand to join the Art/FAB Lab Club that students were split into two groups, one meeting each semester. However, those students who participated in the first semester are being allowed to participate for the second semester as well. Students who are participating in the club for a second time will be a valuable resource for the new club members to reach out to with questions.

Students who are interested in joining the Art/FAB Lab Club can sign up during the enrollment period that will be broadcasted on the morning announcements at Middle School West. For more information, reach out to Sandra Guinto at guintos@gjps.org