E.A. Hall unveils ‘fab lab’

Michelle Rodriguez (lower right), superintendent of Pajaro Valley Unified School District, joins others to view a major upgrade of classrooms at E.A. Hall MIddle School Monday. (Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

One of 11 throughout district

WATSONVILLE — About one year ago, the Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees approved a plan to create “21st century learning spaces” throughout the district, where students could create projects by weaving their lessons with technology and by working closely with their peers.

On Monday, a group of district officials heralded in the opening of E.A. Hall Middle School’s version, which has been dubbed the Falcon Fab Lab.

The lab is one of 11 now scattered throughout the district, including at all the high schools.

During the tour, three laser printers were busy churning out various three-dimensional objects, while visitors walked through the bright, open sunlit space that includes monitor screens and plenty of open space.

Technology is the rule in the space, an essential aspect in a classroom for a generation of young people born in the age of connected devices and ever-burgeoning computational power.

The idea with fab labs, also called maker spaces, is for the students to work together on their projects, developing ideas and finding solutions as part of a group effort. This idea will be the same for every class from math to science to art.

The open floor plan and movable furniture is modeled after workspaces in tech companies such as Google, which encourage the same type of team approach.

“We want to change the way we teach at E.A. Hall,” Principal Adelina Cervero said. “Learning from one another is the way we know they have learned completely and deeply.”

According to PVUSD Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez, employers look first and foremost for employees who not only can master technology, but more importantly can work in such collaborative environments.

“We turned it into a space that can really support our students,” she said.

The fab lab is located in the school’s former wood shop, which stood virtually unused and chock full of obsolete equipment for three years.

A total of 21 schools submitted proposals to the district for their own spaces, and 11 were chosen.

The Fab Lab was funded by a series of grants and a one-time shifting of $300,000 in Proposition 98 funds.

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