Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is a Mobile Fab Lab? 

A Fab Lab (short for Fabrication Laboratory) or a MakerSpace is a creative, open work environment. Fab Labs and MakerSpaces have lots of technology and tools and encourage participants to MAKE stuff, not just talk about it or think about ideas, actually make prototypes and solutions to real world challenges.  The educational theory of Making is that students should be doing and making things all the time to really learn content. This hands on approach to education is changing the way teachers, students, and parents think about school and learning.

The Mobile Fab Lab is a mini Fab Lab on wheels!  Our Mobile Fab lab is housed in a 28 foot long trailer and contains big technology machines including laser cutters, 3D printers, a ShopBot and power tools! It also has lots of electronics materials and other craft objects that are helpful for making.  Our Mobile Fab Lab travels around Ohio and around the Country visiting schools and showing students and teachers why hands on learning is so important and inspiring many to build a Fab Lab of their own!

2. Do I have to pay for the Mobile Fab Lab to come to my school? 

A Mobile Fab Lab visit to any CMSD school is free. The CMSD school is only responsible for covering the cost of the materials consumed on the visit.

Any NON-CMSD school or organization will be charged for a MFL visit as well as covering the cost of materials. Details will be provided after a request is made. Please have a budget in mind when requesting the MFL.

3. How can I schedule a MFL visit? 

Please check out the Request the Mobile Fab Lab page to learn more about scheduling a visit and requesting the lab.

4. Who runs the Mobile Fab Lab? Who will help the students with the MFL activities? 

The MFL is run by Sarah Wallace  (learn more on the Fab Lab Team page) and student interns from MC2 STEM High School.

5. What kind of technologies are available on the MFL?

The MFL currently has two Epilog Laser Cutters, a Roland Vinyl Cutter, two Ultimaker 3d Printers and a ShopBot Buddy on the mobile trailer.  We also have additional machines such as a Modela Circuit Maker that can be brought onto the lab if needed. The lab also has a large amount of smaller technology tools including power tools, soldering stations, lighting and wire electronics that can be used for a Fab project.

6. What kind of Safety Measures are in place on the MFL?

There are power tools and other dangerous materials on the MFL, it is NOT a playground. Therefore, students and adults will be expected to adhere to the safety rules set by the Fab Lab team. If anyone does not follow the rules, they will be asked to leave the lab.

All participants must wear closed-toe shoes in the MFL. When told by a MFL team member, participants may also be required to wear protective eye glasses, ear plugs, and or gloves, depending on the activity.

7. Can my students use the machines on their own? 

No one is permitted to use the machines or tools on the trailer without supervision until they are ‘certified’ by a Fab Lab Team Member- this includes adults!  After you are certified on a machine you will receive a certification card that you can take to other Fab Labs!

8. How long can the MFL visit my school? 

The Mobile Fab Lab visits CMSD schools for one day at a time.

9. How many students can be in the lab at one time?

Depending on the age of the students, only 5-10 students can be in the trailer at one time.  The Lab can accommodate up to 30 students max at one time (using different stations in the lab and classroom.  Depending on the duration of the visit and activity chosen the lab can handle up to 4 classes per day with a short activity, or 1 class over an entire week for a more involved activity.

10. What aged students can visit the van?

The MFL is ready to work with students K-8. Students in grades 3 and up will be able to engage in all aspects of the MFL’s lessons.  Students in grades 1-2 will complete a light version of the activities and students in PreK or Kindergarten will do an exposure activity.  

11. How long does a MFL activity take?  

Some activities can be done in an hour, others take 20 hours.  Depending on how long the Lab is at your school and the number of students you want to work in the lab, the Fab Lab Team will work with you to pick an appropriate activity.

12. Why are people taking my picture? 

The MFL Team wants to share the awesome stuff we make together! We love to tweet and blog about our experiences! By participating in a MFL activity, the MFL team has the right to take your picture while participating in the activity and use it for their own materials. We understand that some students’ guardians may not have signed a media release form, if that is the case we have blue paper bracelets for you to put on your students to signify to us that we should not take their picture.

13. Is the trailer accessible? 

The MFL has two doors with two steps and a back drop gate with a ram that is accessible for those with disabilities.  The MFL team will do its best to ensure all students can access the van and see the technologies inside. 

14. Who should go out with the students to the trailer?

The classroom teacher MUST come out to the MFL with their class.   A substitute teacher is not sufficient.   Other adults may join the class if they would like such as paraprofessional, aids or parent volunteers 

*please note that the adults are there to help supervise and assist with small tasks and should not expect to complete any projects.

15. Where should I bring my students? 

Please look over the schedule you were sent for your school’s visit.  Please be ready with your class at the nearest door to the MFL as close to your scheduled time as possible.   We want to make sure every student has a full experience, so we need to stick to the time schedule as closely as we can.

16. What should my students bring with them? 

For most visits, students do not need to bring anything with them to the MFL, but each activity is different and customized so this may change.  For example, some activities may require students to complete a short worksheet before the trailer visit and bring it out with them. 

17. Do students need a permission slip? 

The MFL is a part of CMSD, students do not need a permission slip to participate. 

18. What happens if it rains? 

If the weather is not cooperative- rain, cold or excessive heat, students may need to stay indoors for the bulk of the activity.  This means they may be constructing objects in a classroom and just going out to the trailer for a few minutes to see how the machines work-  they should be prepared with a jacket if necessary. 

If the weather is very bad-  heavy rain or snow or excessive cold,  the visit may need to be rescheduled. 

Please contact us with any questions or for more information about the MFL :