New library Makerspace cuts quite a figure at WHS

The+wood+piece+was+made+with+the+laser+cutter+in+the+new+Fab+Lab+in+the+Watertown+High+library.+
The wood piece was made with the laser cutter in the new Fab Lab in the Watertown High library.

The wood piece was made with the laser cutter in the new Fab Lab in the Watertown High library.

Raider Times photo / Christine Zhu

Raider Times photo / Christine Zhu

The wood piece was made with the laser cutter in the new Fab Lab in the Watertown High library.

Christine Zhu, Raider Times staff

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Imagine a cramped library with tall, old, bookshelves filled with out-of-date books that no one checked out anymore. That was the picture you saw if you looked inside Watertown High School’s library last year.

The vinyl cutter is one of the pieces of equipment available to students in the new Fab Lab in the WHS library.

Raider Times photo / Christine Zhu
The vinyl cutter is one of the pieces of equipment available to students in the new Fab Lab in the WHS library.

This year, it has been turned it into a completely new and different space. The school got rid of the tall bookshelves that towered in the middle of the room and confined it to smaller wall shelves, while getting rid of the useless and out-of-date books.

Now all the books are easily identifiable and people won’t get lost or overwhelmed in the maze of bookshelves that it used to be. The school added tables and chairs in the middle of the room, perfect for a comfortable study session with friends.

Not only was it transformed into a nice open, neat space, it also has some new technology.

Thanks to a donation to the schools, WHS decided to add a Fab Lab Makerspace right in the library.

Fabrication Laboratories, or Fab Labs for short, are popping up everywhere. Locally, there is a Makerspace in the Arsenal Mall, thanks to the work of the Watertown Public Library. These spaces are dedicated to invention, innovation, and creativity.

The laser cutter is one of the pieces of equipment in the new Fab Lab in the Watertown High library.

Raider Times photo / Christine Zhu
The laser cutter is one of the pieces of equipment in the new Fab Lab in the Watertown High library.

The idea of a Fab Lab was started at MIT and it has been catching on more and more. Fab Labs and other Makerspaces are being created in all sorts of places worldwide. In the WHS Fab Lab, there are three 3D printers, one laser cutter, and a vinyl cutter.

Now I know what you’re thinking, why would a library spend its money to create a Fab Lab instead of just getting more books or computers?

“Libraries are a place to get information and the Fab Lab is just a way to get a different kind of information,” said Erin Piazza, a librarian at WHS.

The 3D printers can make all sorts of things using plastics, printed in layers to create a 3D shape that anyone can design. The laser cutter cuts materials such as wood and cardboard in the same motions as a 3D printer, except it uses a laser, moving back and forth to do the cutting. It can also engrave the wood. The vinyl cutter cuts flexible, plastic-like, materials and you can use it to make stickers, banners, and other things.

The 3D printer is one of the pieces of equipment in the new Fab Lab in the Watertown High School library.

Raider Times photo / Christine Zhu
The 3D printer is one of the pieces of equipment in the new Fab Lab in the Watertown High School library.

Classes can use the Fab Lab for a project, and students can use the Fab Lab for anything they might want. It’s there for everyone at WHS to use. For information on how to use the Fab Lab and any other questions, talk to Elizabeth Lloyd, the Watertown High expert.

The Fab Lab connects people in all different places. Students can share ideas and get inspiration from the things that others make. You can design things yourself or use other’s designs and tweak it to how you want it. It opens up a whole new world and new opportunities for projects and ideas. You can think bigger and better and make it happen.

In WHS’s new Fab Lab, just about anything is possible.

–Nov. 11, 2015–

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