“Making” is that beautiful space where problem-solving, art, engineering, design, electronics, and computer science all meet. Lane Tech College Preparatory High School now offers an environment and course unlike anything seen in other high schools. The LTMaker Lab has its foundation in the revolution of Digital Manufacturing and the overall “Maker” movement that has seen rapid gains in momentum in nearly every industry. According to the April 21, 2012 issue of The Economist, “A number of remarkable technologies are converging: clever software, novel materials, more dexterous robots, new processes (notably three-dimensional printing) and a whole range of web-based services. The factory of the future will focus on mass customization.” Chicago’s Inventables states that the world is at the beginning of a new renaissance.
We see power in product development shifting from major corporations to individual designers and entrepreneurs. At Lane Tech, we feel that those individual designers and entrepreneurs are our students. The availability of relatively low cost manufacturing tools and low cost distribution on internet sites are leveling the playing field. Small teams can now make unique high value products that major corporations can’t justify because they aren't for the masses. With the advent of these new technologies, desktop prototyping and even full-scale manufacturing are now possible. Only a few years ago, some equipment cost many thousands of dollars, and today that same equipment costs only hundreds.
The aim of this lab and associated course is to provide the necessary equipment and resources, commonly referred to as a makerspace, maker lab and innovation lab, to teach students how to design, prototype, and engineer their own innovative products and solutions to complex problems. Students are essentially taking their ideas and making them a reality...where their dreams can actually come true. Chicago Public Libraries notes that, “Makerspaces are growing in popularity across the globe and are supported by a vibrant maker culture, a technology-based extension of the DIY (do-it-yourself) movement. Today, makerspaces are found at universities, museums and, increasingly, public libraries.” We at Lane Tech are pioneering the addition of high schools into this list. The Lane Tech Computer Science Department and administration believe in being advocates for open hardware, open source software, and making the world a better place by empowering people to create their own high-quality products. Everyone can be a designer and manufacturer. Students should be learning how to solve complex problems, create and innovate, not just consume.
The LTMaker Lab is equipped with 4 Epilog laser cutters, 10 MakerBot and UP! 3D printers, 7 X-Carve and Carvey 3D carvers, 4 Cameo vinyl cutters, 4 MakerBot 3D Scanners, 34 MacBook Pro Retina laptops, 2 15’ wall projectors, mobile Smartboard, multiple custom-designed workspaces with power drops, collaboration spaces with HDTV and laptop HDMI switching, a large variety of production and prototyping materials, a variety of power and hand tools and more.
According to the book Invent to Learn (Martinez, Sylvia Libow; Stager, Gary S.) “Howard Gardner’s 1983 introduction of the theory of multiple intelligences recognized what good teachers had known for ages: intelligence comes in many forms and humans learn differently. Hands-on learning through the sort of rich projects advocated by makers offers flexible opportunities for students to learn in their personal style or styles.” Also, “Schools should seize any opportunity for students to learn and express their knowledge in new and exciting ways. Classrooms need to reflect the world their kids live in and leverage new tools to amplify human capacity.”