Video by Michele Mathieson, Learning Village Technology Resource Coordinator
St. Anne’s-Belfield School’s FAB Lab is an exciting opportunity for students in the Learning Village Grades K – 4 to engage in student-initiated inquiry during a dedicated time period each week.
An outgrowth of Fab Fridays in the 2014 – 2015 School year, FAB Lab is now a regular feature in the division’s schedule. FAB Lab is our own version of Google’s ‘20% Time,’ adapted to be developmentally appropriate for young children brimming with natural curiosity and plenty of questions.
During weekly FAB Lab mornings, teachers supplement curricular academics with the habits and skills of student-initiated learning. Children develop perseverance as they generate questions, solve problems, collaborate with peers, and delve into their natural curiosities and intellectual pursuits.
“Wonder investigations” begin in Kindergarten, where classes work together to focus their curiosity and find answers to questions on everything from slugs to clouds. At each grade level students review and learn more about the research process, including information literacy and digital literacy skills. As they progress, students transition from class investigations to group work and self-directed, independent research.
A student to teacher ratio of 8:1 allows teachers to support and guide students one-on-one, in small groups, and in whole group sessions.
Regardless of the research topics chosen, all Kindergarten through fourth grade students practice and master a variety of learning skills while working on their FAB Lab projects. Planning, writing, researching, reflecting and revising, and presenting findings are all inherent in the project cycles, as are opportunities for collaboration, and giving, receiving, and utilizing peer feedback. Students are encouraged to consider how their acquired knowledge and skills can impact their communities, even at their relatively young ages.
An integral part of FAB Lab research is for students to share their findings and projects with others. This occurs both with on-campus audiences through presentations and performances, and also with the broader world via blogs, movies, and more. Considering the world around them, and how they can investigate and solve problems within it, is an overarching theme of students' FAB Lab investigations.