Students create cutting edge industry products that rival those produced in the commercial world in their high school’s fab lab.

Fueled by the belief that students learn through creating, educators at Kelliher Public Schools established the school’s Fabrication Arts Lab program. The innovation and depth of real world experience it provides for students earned Kelliher Public Schools the 2017 MREA Profile of Excellence Award.

The Kelliher “Fab Lab” provides opportunities to collaborate and connect with the community. The local Soil and Water Conservation District contracted with the school to produce 3D replicas of aquatic invasive species. A retired military veteran assisted with the assembly of an aerial drone. Team Industries, a local business, provided funding, consultation and guidance in the design of the lab.

The program is a framework for classes and curricula that equip and empower students, staff, and even community members to come together and create. Some of the technology used in the program includes 3D printers, a vinyl cutter, and computer-assisted versions of a laser engraver, a plasma cutter and a mill.

One of the great benefits of the lab is the freedom to learn from trial and error.  Failure is not seen as defeat, but instead as a step towards discovery.

The personal engagement and interest can be seen by the 150 percent increase in students registering for courses involving the lab.  In addition, discipline referrals have significantly dropped.

“This program is providing students with a high-level of market-ready experience,” MREA Executive Director Fred Nolan said. “What the Fabrication Lab is imparting to students will set them up for success quickly upon graduation.”