A lab within a lab? Mucking around with Edison’s idea

I’ve been talking about labs and science a lot, recently. Partly because we are zeroing in on S-T-E-M areas across the board in our school, and partly because my class, after all, is a lab that is constantly under construction, so to speak. By now my students know the mantra:

I say: “This is not a computer lab, it is…”

They say: “A computer and technology lab!”

I’ve move things around, to crate more interactive spaces, and just made my robotics board a permanent fixture etc.

I may have to move the tables back a lot more, as I just heard from StarLab that we will have them set up here next month for two days. We have somehow got to fit this 25′ x 25′ inflatable planetarium inside!

A lab within a lab  lends itself to some good discussions of what exactly is a laboratory? Science is too broad and deep to limit it to something that involves chemicals or PCs, magnets or motors.

If I had my way, I would build a science lab that is more Discovery Zone than science class. A place where kids could learn to try things they would never be allowed to do in a regular class. To ‘mess’ with batteries, to invent flying objects, to experiment with sound waves, and plot the path of asteroids.

Thomas Edison used to describe his team of science assistants as ‘Muckers’! Why? His buddies were apparently messing with (mucking with) many different scientific ideas, simultaneously in the lab. His earliest ‘lab’ was in the baggage car of a train! This was probably the genesis of ‘inter-disciplinary’ sciences, before we had a fancy term for it.


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