To the schools who have decided to go ahead with setting up of tinkering lab, the primary requirement is to have a physical space for it.
How much Sq Feet area?
The ideal way would be by looking at the number of students occupying the lab at one stretch.The actual space truly depends on infrastructure school wants and the plan and layout. Keep future expansion plans in mind too if any. 1500-2500 Sq feet area should be more than sufficient for most needs.
Where do I set it up?
1. Centrally accessible to all students, let the entrance not be through another lab.
2.If you are planning heavy accessories ( CNC Machines etc ) then ideally on the ground floor. This also helps keep out the noise to below floors.
If you don’t have space on the ground floor, upper floors would work fine too. The mechanical areas can be carpeted and rubberized to avoid loud hitting noises.
What should be the layout plan?
Have your own design! Don’t follow fixed templates but do refer a few plans and come up with your own. It can be square, rectangular, circular, L Shaped or half open and half closed. Really go on and be creative.You Tinkering Lab should be your own and should have a unique identity.
Some things to remember when you design are –
- Keep open spaces, especially in the middle of the lab, avoid too many fixed furniture.
- Wide and Multiple Windows ( with blinds – needed when you want to use projector)
- Lots of power sockets, at least 15-20 (min rating 5A) all across the Lab. Special 15A power sockets for high power devices ( if needed). Invest in good quality switches and sockets.
- Wet Area – 1/2 Wash Basins
- Mandatory Peg Board – 6 feet length x4 feet breadth – To keep all the mechanical tools
- Storage Area, attached to a wall – Separate for Electronics / Computational/Embedded / Electrical /Design /Art with marked labels.
- Projector Wall
- Movable Table and chairs – should be easy to move these around. Table Size – 4×3 feet rectangular, with no sharp edges with wooden top – avoid having storage area or projections below the table (affecting leg area). This is good for 4 students. The chairs should be such that they can be slid into the tables. So for 40 students, you will need 10 such tables and 40 chairs.Alternatively, for 2 Students sharing you can look at 4×2 feet tables. Here for 40 students, you need 20 Tables. Rectangular tables are better as they can be joined together when you need to have a brainstorming session or want to have a bigger work/display area.Tinkering area is not about comfort its utility. Keep the average height of the students in mind.
- Special Areas/Zones for 3d Printer / Project Display Area /VR Showcase etc (some devices like 3d Printers etc should be kept the dust free environment and away from water and moisture in order to avoid rusting – keep this in mind)
- Wall of fame – Showcase area for student innovators of your school.
- First Aid Zone – And FIre Extinguishers.
- The final bit is about the visual aesthetics of the lab, the feel of the lab when you enter matters a lot too. Please see that you can give life to the empty walls by asking your art department and the students to plan a theme for the lab and paint it themselves. This costs almost nothing but will add a lot of character to the lab and students will also be happy that they were involved in the design of the lab. This can be changed once in a year or two and will make the lab feel new with almost nil investment.
- The tinkering lab may also include the aspects of fashion, journalism, social designs, clay modeling and art forms etc. which helps the students to open up their mind to humanities.BONUS: Involve a few creative students too when you do the planning and execution. of the Lab. Let them own it up.
In case of any queries please reach out to ask (firstname.lastname@example.org), we will be glad to help you out. and customize the same depending on individual requirement.
BONUS: Include some creative students from the starting stages when are setting up the Lab! It helps 🙂 See the video link here: Students In Action
Video Link 1 :Tinkering Lab @ DPS Bangalore North Video – This is an L Shaped Lab, has a uniquely done Sharing Arena
Video Link 2 :Tinkering Lab @ DLF Ghaziabad Video – Square shaped Lab with an Aesthetically done wall of fame.
Video Link 3 :Tinkering Lab @ Kautilya Vidhyalaya Video – Simple rectangular Lab, Notice the big glass walls and paintings when you enter the lab
In the next article, we will be discussing the tools & equipment’s which a school tinkering lab would need.